Thursday 29 December 2022

Catching Up with Some Smaller Projects

Things have been pretty intense here with cooking, cleaning and crafting, so I decided to take it a little easier and sit down to write a post for my blog. It's been a while, and it's not that I haven't been doing anything...
I don't even remember when I finished this shawl. It's been a few months, I think. 
It measures 62" across and 30" long, and was made with just under 10 oz. (2 cakes) of Bernat Pop. Just don't ask me to remember what colourway this was... Once again the pattern came from this page. It's the design with the number 40 in the description. Here is a close up of the stitching. 
Back in September, I took a non-quilting friend on a quilt shop hop with me (only two shops). At the first shop, she asked about animal print fabric, and fell in love with a couple of panels and commissioned me to make her a lap quilt
and a wallhanging. 
I quilted them both with African Storm
In the yarn arts, I started playing around with some Red Heart Super Saver Stripes yarn in the Bright Stripe colourway. I had started a Tunisian crochet afghan with this yarn several years ago, but I didn't like the way it was going, so I "frogged" it, and the yarn sat in my stash since then. But I decided I needed a new knitting project and pulled this yarn out. I have been wanting to try cables for some time, so decided to try an Irish Fisherman afghan from this book. 
First I tried Athlone, but I was going to do it all in one piece instead of several panels. However, each colour barely lasted a row, so I realized that the frequent colour changes would not allow the stitches to show. And when I was going to all that trouble to create fancy stitches, I wanted them to show! So, I frogged that project.
Next I tried a non-cable, but still textured pattern called Allegro. The picture was very pretty in the book, but after struggling to make it work, I realized it was the pattern and not me. Multiple mistakes and very poorly written. Another project frogged...
Finally, I decided on Shannon, which is individual blocks, small enough that the colour changes are more gradual and the fancy stitching will still be allowed to "shine". 
The interesting thing is that the blocks are small enough that they don't go through the entire colourway, so there will be two quite distinctly different blocks, at least where the colours are concerned. 
I didn't like the way the instructions in the book said to do the bobble stitches, and I was actually tempted to use a crochet hook to complete them. But I googled and found what I considered a more reasonable method to knit them. 
Still a work in progress, this will be a traditional Irish fisherman afghan in very non-traditional colours. I won't be surprised if it takes me a year or more to complete it because these blocks, about 9" square are taking me about 4 hours each. And I will have to see if I can find more of this yarn because I won't have sufficient to complete the project at the rate I calculate - around 40 g (1.35 oz) of yarn per square. 
Back to quilting, I decided to work on My True Love Gave to Me Reprise and wanted to finish it by Christmas. Several years ago, I had it completed up to part of the large triangle border just before the narrow black border. But first, I had to decide how to finish it. Most of what I had left was the plaid fabric, but not really significant amounts of the other fabrics. But I did have my bolt of solid black that I could incorporate. Since it is a medallion style quilt, I decided to pull out this book and do patchwork borders. 
Pieced borders can be complicated. Not only does the design have to fit the width of the quilt, but it needs to end in a spot where you can add a corner that works within the design. Then, I had to make sure that the following borders would work with the new measurements. After finishing the large triangle border and adding the narrow solid black border, I added a 2" version of Border 7 from the book. 
Next came a 4"  version of Border 3, Variation 1. 
Next, I started a 6" version of Border 39. 
While the previous borders were complex enough, I made this one more complicated because I wanted to keep the large squares one piece. Otherwise they would have been done as HSTs and squares. 
But the plaid wouldn't have looked as good if it were chopped up this way. But that's as far as I got because I decided to take a little break from this complex project.
Meanwhile, I actually managed to get some Christmas lights up outside. (Looks much better in person).

Some time in October, I did a thrift shop hop with my buddy Phil and picked up this book (among others). 
As a friend had asked me about buying High Tea for her niece who was hoping to open a tea shop, I decided to make the Tea Party wallhanging from this book. If this friend wants to buy that one, she can, but High Tea already had a recipient and was too big for her purposes anyway. 
The time-saving technique for this quilt was using bias tubing for the appliqué - the handles and the spout. Well, I wasn't born yesterday, nor did I start quilting yesterday, so I knew that not only would making bias tubes waste a lot of fabric, but it was highly unlikely to save any time over raw-edge appliqué using fusible web. So, I skipped the bias tubing and designed my own templates. And this is anything but a time crunch quilt. For something this small, it took quite a few hours becuase it had some very fiddley little piecing. And then the pattern gave instructions for cutting and piecing each individual section - even the creamer separate from the sugar bowl. I think it would have been more efficient to cut all of the pieces from each individual fabric first. But that's just me. 
When it came to the quilting, I knew that this project was too small for most pantographs. So, after outlining everything with stitch in the ditch,  I decided to try microquilting on the background to make the tea set "pop". 
I used my micro quilting foot, Microquilter thread and a size 14 needle. One thing I learned: when the thread is so fine (100 wt) and the background is printed, it really doesn't show up at all. So, after a little while of trying to meander/stipple, I just started scribbling with the machine because it really didn't matter. 
I used a ruler to quilt a heart in each piece of the tea set. And now it's waiting for binding and a hanging sleeve. By this time I had other priorities.
My niece had shared a picture of her Christmas tree and I couldn't help but notice that she was using a blanket as her Christmas tree skirt. I had been debating on what to get or make her for Christmas, and now I knew. And she would need to get it early. But I had to find a fairly quick and easy pattern. Jordan Fabrics has this pattern, but it uses the envelope method of assembly and I wanted to quilt it on the longarm. That would be fine, except that with the inner corners, I would need to use bias binding. I'm not opposed to bias binding, but not if I can avoid it. So, I made some modifications and came up with this, also eliminating any Y-seams. 
It measures about 54" across and 60" point to point. I used Candy Canes to quilt it.
Next, I wanted to clean the living room carpet. It was way overdue and I wanted it done before putting up the Christmas trees. 
I do this by moving the furniture to one side of the room, cleaning the first side, then moving it all to the other side of the room and cleaning the second side, before finally moving all the furniture back where it belongs. 
I forgot to mention that when I retrieved the Christmas decorations from the garage, I noticed that the box that the green tree was stored in had been invaded by a mouse. After disposing of the box, mouse nest and droppings, I rolled the parts of the tree around in the snow and left them outside in the cold for a few days to freeze any germs. It still smelled when I brought it inside however, so since I had already put it in the tub for the snow to melt off of it, I gave it a hot shower. When the smell was still there the next day, I gave it a vinegar treatment, followed by baking soda and more vinegar, and finally a second hot shower. No detectable odour and I now own a plastic Christmas tree storage box for when I take the tree down. 
During all this hubbub, my iron died. It was a cheap one anyway and was given to me by an ex-boyfriend (who gives their girlfriend a cheap iron for Christmas?) quite a few years ago, so I bid it goodbye without any regret. I still have my ancient GE iron that I use as a dry iron, especially for applying fusible web, but decided it was time to get a better quality iron. 
Bonus: Canadian Tire had some on sale. I honestly do not feel I need to spend $200 or $300 on an iron, especially since some of the owners of those expensive irons have complained about their performance in quilting groups on Facebook. So, I got a not quite so expensive Black and Decker with good reviews. Unfortunately, it's fairly heavy and, whether from snow shovelling or ironing or both, my wrist was aching more than normal. So I put my splint on. (I have carpal tunnel syndrome). 
I had been using Go Wild as my couch quilt when I put away the non-Christmas quilts and brought out the Christmas ones. I tried Country Christmas on the sofa, but it just wasn't as snuggly because Go Wild has a minky backing and Country Christmas does not. So, I determined to make myself a minky-backed Christmas quilt. It didn't need to be as large as Go Wild or Country Christmas, so I looked for a 3-yard quilt pattern. And, just in time, Fabric Cafe posted a new free pattern, Boxes and Bows
In between washing bathroom walls (I had the bathroom painted), I managed to squeeze in enough time to complete this quilt. Quilted with Christmas Forest, and Affinity thread in the Christmas blend,
it has been cat-tested and approved. 
Then I needed a quilt in a hurry and none of my UFOs/WIPs would do, so I pulled this pattern,
which is really cool because it offers different layouts to produce different quilts with the same amount of fabric. Unfortunately, my choice of fabrics is so busy that you can barely discern the quilt design. 
I decided that I'm going to have to quilt with rulers to emphasize the design of the blocks. 
But now it has to wait until after Christmas because I had to get cooking. Christmas dinner was delicious, but unfortunately I've been eating it all week. The weather intervened and my daughter, grandson and ex-husband weren't able to make it. Now we're aiming for New Year's and I'm cooking a totally different meal. Meanwhile, I've had a little time to make some Christmas hand towels 
and some Christmas tree napkins
Honestly, if I make these napkins again, I will not include the tree trunks. Even though I followed the instructions, they ended up crooked and off-centre. They are cute, nevertheless. Here's what the napkin looks like unfolded. 
And did I mention that in the middle of the frigid weather the week before Christmas, my truck wouldn't start? New battery put in yesterday.
Now it's time to eat some more of my Christmas dinner and maybe do some more cooking for New Year's Day.