Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stained Glass Afghan is growing

I've been bouncing back and forth between knitting, quilting, embroidery and crochet. This week I concentrated enough on crochet to get the first 9 blocks of the stained glass afghan finished. I started out planning on using up leftover yarn but after a couple blocks I decided to go for a more planned design.

I've decided to keep the green,black and blue the same and change up the "flower" part of the block. Now I'm thinking I'll keep the remainder of the blocks in gold and have the off white as 4 accent blocks.

Keeping this away from the boys has been interesting because I plan to keep this as cat hair free as possible so it can be used to warm company when the house seem a bit too cold for anyone. Right now these 9 blocks are hiding away in a plastic bag away from cat access.

Today has been knitting - tomorrow quilting. Let the good times roll.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yes, It makes me Happy

Last post I said I was going somewhere after work to get something that would make me very happy. I did. It does.

Last Saturday I went to Just Sew Studio in Roseville. Well, actually the story starts last Friday. I went over to the shop and asked Carmen (owner) about the embroidery unit for my Pfaff Creative 4.0. After explaining I was looking for something to speed up my quilting and help with making feathered quilting and other "fancy" designs, she suggested I come to the beginner's class Saturday to check it out. I should just bring my machine and they would let me use their embroidery unit. Cost? free. What materials did I need to bring. Nothing except a couple colors of thread, they provided the material. This, my friends, is good customer service. They made me part of their family before I even bought anything from them.

Saturday a group of us met at the shop and made a pillow top. The material they provided was a really nice large weave cloth. We set up the machines, stitched the design, had questions answered and, yes, I left with a Monday visit set up to pick up my new embroidery unit and the software for creating quilt designs for it.

Monday night I brought home the unit and software and played with it all week. I've been on free embroidery sites and downloaded a few and read what I could. I went through the book that came with my software and created a few designed to try out. I'm likin' it a lot.
This Saturday I was back at the shop because we had another free class. We brought in our laptops and found out all sorts of goodies about the organizing program.
There's a website, Embroidery Library, that has lots of its designs on sale every week. They also have a Christmas club for free with lots of goodies. I'll be sending a lot of time checking out the site. I've already purchased a few designs and I'm making a couple pieces that will in included in a Christmas wall hanging.
These 2 pieces are on different material, both off white. I'm thinking of something with different size blocks and a half triangle border between the blocks of various sized and - well - it's still in the designing stage,
The quilting software is 5D QuiltDesign from VMS. Here's a couple first attempts on some leftover material. I put the top, batting and backing in the hoop and gave it a try.
The left side is a double stitched design, the right is an applique done on the embroidery hoop and the middle is a design I did following the lessons in the book.
Let the good times roll.......

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to Make a Hand Applique Block in 15 Minutes

Today was the last day before returning to work tomorrow. I did a little cleaning, a little sewing, and a little crochet. It was a good day.

While cleaning I found a piece of hand applique I started about 15 years ago. All it needed was 1 leaf appliqued on it and it was done. What in the world was I thinking all those years ago to get it less than 15 minutes from done and not finishing!?! So, it's done. Now I have to figure out what to do with it. Make a wall hanging out of it with a bit of a border. Make some more, enough to create a quilt. Such decisions. In the mean time I have a pretty block to look at.

If you look carefully behind the block you may notice the yellow and blue quilt top. The inner part of the top is done and I'm to the first border. The original design was a thin pale blue border, a border of 2x2blocks in blue and yellow and finally a wider border of pale blue.
My latest quilt buddy hung out with me while I worked on this top. He spent most of the time holding down the top while I was actually working on it. Makes the going a bit slower but definitely more fun!

And where was Chief while Bert was helping out? About 6 inches away from my left foot under the table. I've discovered having the kitty tunnel under the table helps keep one of them off the top table.

So - that's it the crocheting looks pretty much the same as before - just more squares. Tomorrow off to work and after work I'm going somewhere to get something that will make me very happy. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Time out for Crocheting

I have a couple pictures so thought I pass them along to you all.

First the Christmas wall hanging. I stopped by a local shop a few days ago to find a middle border fabric. My original thought was red but after looking at the center with various fabrics I decided a "shiny" white would set things off rather nicely.

Here's the original idea.

Now here's what I ended up with. It's 3x3 instead of 4x4. I still need to layer and quilt but, it's getting there. I originally saw the compass in the quilt - gold center with the black/green spokes but now I'm seeing the gold/red as Christmas ornaments on a tree because the green abd black ended up being lighter materials than my plan.

Then, I crochet very rarely but I saw a block pinned by a friend and liked it so ended up making one to try it out and now I'm making a lap size quilt for guests who get a bit chilled. I'll be keeping this one away from the cats the best I can so it won't be totally filled with hair when used.

One thing I'm really proud of is my finishing abilities. Here's a close up of the seam between 2 of the blocks. Normally you can clearly see where the join is but I think I've done a pretty good job at making it blend into the finished lapghan (is that a real word?). Anyway, the way I make this nice clean finish is treating the edges like I would knitting and using mattress stitch to join things up.

Next time I join a couple edges I'll try to remember to take some pictures in case anyone is interested.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wisconsin Quilt Expo

Turns out my Internet Explorer program decided not to like Blogger any more so I had to reinstall the program. Sometimes computers just don't understand what we want and misbehave like a little kid.

So - yesterday I decided to have an adventure on my first day of vacation since I won't be going anywhere this week and I got up early and headed east toward Wisconsin. I got to the border, also known as the St Croix River and drove 4.5 hours to Madison.

At the Alliant Center was the Wisconsin Quilt Expo sponsors by among others - Nancy Zieman.
There was lots of vendors, quilts, classes, and lectures.


One thing I noticed about the quilts is there is much more quilting (thanks to the new longarm machines) and many people are painting on their quilts. Watching the change over the past 15 years has been interesting.
Of course if you want to get my friend Sarah happy there must be a cat on the quilt. This one is painted and quilted - a lot.

Another painted one with lots of quilting.
Much of the next is actually pieced with a bit of painting.
The other thing I noticed frequently was the blending of applique and piecing. I've always like the combination cause it seems to give the quilts more life.
The was also a lot of crazy color/print combinations. A few of them were just too much but mostly this riot of print gave the quilt a vibrant look.
I liked the way they had the quilts displayed. Many shows I've been to including Minnesota's have the quilts set up in little alcoves or U-shapes with 3 quilts in each U. This looks nice but people tend to block the view of the quilts more. With the U shape set up I always find it hard to get a clean view of a quilt when taking pictures. With the rows of quilts like this the people looking at other quilts were less frequently in the way of photo taking.

So - here's a few more quilts to enjoy. I took over 100 pictures so this is just a few..

Another thing I noticed was several quilts were somple blocks with a lot of blank space which was then filled with tons of quilting. The huge number of longarm quilters out there is becoming very obvious.

One of the talks was the people from the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts. They've purchased an 1840 farmstead and converted the barn to a display museum with space for special shows and classes.

So after a full day of quilts and vendors ( and a few purchases) I headed for home as the sunset in the west.
Today being inspired by the show I got the Christmas hanging out and worked on it. Bert was very pleased to hold down the material while I did a bit of fussy cutting. Fortunately, no tails were trimmed in the cutting of my pieces.

Here's the 9 patches of the wall hanging. I would have preferred a deeper green and a whiter white but - in person the gold glows and this will make a nice bit of color on the wall for Christmas.


Best Made Plans

I went out on a day trip yesterday - quite the trips with lots of pictures but, my computer decided to have hissy fits with Blogger and I can't open it up properly to make a post with pics.

Hang tight I'll get it figured out. The boys are fine, Bert has recovered well from the tooth extraction. I hope to be able to post wonderful pictures very soon.