Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'm Having a Ball

 I found a pattern on Ravelry that looked like fun. It used little bits of left over worsted weight yarn, was straight knitting and quick. Once finished the boys liked what I had made.

Meet the Braided Ball. It's a free download. The basic pattern is 6 strips of plain knitting. 2 of them are sewn together into loops. The next 2 are woven into the first 2 and sewn together as loops. Then, the last 2 are also woven around and sewn together. The end result is a fun little ball.

For more fun, pull apart a couple of the braids and toss in some catnip or kitty treats. The set it out for the kitties to find.

Bert likes the ball and spent some time pushing it around the kitchen floor trying to get at the catnip. Time to check out Chief's reaction.

Chief not only liked it but got the "happy kitty" look. When I showed the ball to a couple workmates, they both got the happy people face. They held the soft ball, cuddled it, squished it. You get the idea. And- this was without any people nip in it! Now I have to test it with little kids. But, I think I can safely say, this cute braided ball is going to be a hit all around.

Yesterday started my week long vacation or as I've been calling them lately - practise retirement. The quilt shop that a friend works at a few Saturdays a month is moving. That means a week of really good sales. Everything in the shop is on sale. Saturday was at 40%. This was enough for me to get a road trip. I drove down to the shop a couple hours away and stopped at another on the way there.

The first shop was All In Stitches in Stewartville, MN. It's a nice shop. The sample quilts were very inviting and got me excited to buy something. On the side of the shop is a nice sized classroom. There was a class going on so I didn't get a chance to go in and look at the items in there too much cause I didn't want to bother the people sewing. In the main room, I ended up finding some black with gold bits material to use as the binding on my quilt I'm working on. I also got a McKenna Ryan pattern for a bird house and material to go with it.

On to Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Racine, MN. Much of the Bernina stuff was gone which is fine with me because I don't own a Bernina and I was there for material. As I said everything was 40% off so I bought lots.

I got 2 kits of quilt tops about 60x80 inches. If I add a wider border either one can be a queen size quilt top. One had the pattern the other was from a book. The book wasn't there but I found it at my library so - good to go. I also got a kit for a wall hanging for Thanksgiving. Then there was the 8 fat quarters and a book (not in picture).

For those of you who are knitters and not quilters let me explain fat quarters. You already understand the concept of stash. Knitters buy a skein here and there and build the stash in hopes of having something to knit at 3AM when you wake up and have to start a new project. Quilters are the same. Shops cut 1 yard pieces of material then cut that into 1/4s or 4 pieces called a fat quarter. These are set up in crates and little shelves for shoppers to get all excited about and buy. After all they're cheap and pretty and easy to grab. Eventually you have a huge pile of fat quarters and it looks pretty much like a knitters stash - WAY more than you could ever use. The nice thing about fat quarters over the single skein - it's easier to mix and match quilt pieces. As a matter of fact most quilts look better when you use a lot of different fabrics in it.

Back in 2003 and 2004 I belonged to the Thimbleberries Club. Each quarter would be a different pattern and kit for that item. I bought a few of the kits and made the tops. Then the quilting mojo left me and the tops were packed up. This year I got the quilting mojo back and unpacked the box of tops.

This quilt was well on its way to being completed. I had finished the top basted it together with batting and backing and even started machine quilting it. It's meant to be "antique" Christmas colors and will look great on my big dining room wall. So, this is what I've been working on the past few weeks. One problem was, the binding didn't get packed with the quilt so, I've been on the look out for a material that will coordinate with the quilt. Yesterday I found it so, now to finish the quilt! 

The past week Bert has been very helpful. He's monitored my computer use, making sure I dont' spend too much time playing games.

Then he's also been acting as quality control for softness of freshly laundered clothes. It took him about 3 minutes to figure out I had a basket of clothes to add his hair to. I set the basket on the bed and went to the bathroom. When I got back - there he was. Just another typical day at our household.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Comments are great but....

One thing that is so tough about blogging is having people leave a comment and not being able to answer them back. I love the comments and don't stop but - if you leave a question that requires an answer please - please - please - give me a way to answer you back! Leave an email address or or Ravelry name or something.

The latest example - Sandy, no last name; left a comment on one of my posts from several years ago. It sounds like she's working on a family tree and is related to Vivian Skoog, the owner of the yarn shop I worked at on weekends during college. I'm hoping Sandy will search Vivian's name again and come up with this post. If so - you can contact me at

Everyone else - leave comments and messages but give me a way to reply back! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I need a new Bed Quilt!

I mentioned the craft winds were changing. While I've been knitting every night, I've also spent time quilting and planning a new queen size quilt. The current one on my bed is, how can I put this politely, well used. It was one I made for a class I was teaching at my shop. Big strips of material sewn on a serger in similar manner as a log cabin design. But - this one was one giant log cabin and the batting, front and back were all serged together at the same time from the center out. The serged seams weren't made to hold up for over 10 years of almost constant use. The fact that this thing isn't totally shredded and worn out is amazing. It has seams that have given way and a few tears in the material but - hey - it still works for warmth.

So, I started playing with my Electric Quilt software. I've come up with a few designs that I'm thinking about making. The colors of the designs aren't the final ones but I picked them for contrast and to get an idea what the blocks would look like together. They're all for a queen size bed so some blocks are larger than others. What do you think?

This one is actually longer than I would make it - take away one row of the stars and shoo fly blocks and you get what it would look like. I started with a layout that was too long and didn't feel like redoing the whole thing just to get an idea of what the blocks looked like together.

The blank space at the top of the next one would be an applique motif. This quilt was designed after looking at some pictures I took at the MN Quilt Show 10 years ago.

I like the way the Snails Trail and the Stars play against each other in this one. The green and blues would be all sorts of materials in those colorways and not just one material of each. I like the "organized" scrappy look and think it gives quilts more life.

So - I'm almost done free-motion quilting the wall hanging I made over 10 years ago. It will look great on the dining room wall for Christmas next year - its my turn to have the family and a new something would be nice. After that quilt is done I'll get serious about starting a bed quilt. Which one of these do you think it should be?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Public Service Announcement

Just a reminder.

It's after 6pm.
It's Minnesota.
It's still winter.

Just saying.........