Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Small Projects

This hat was slated for destruction.  I was rummaging around, looking for a knitting project or two for the road trip to Reno, when I found this mostly finished hat.  I remember getting near the top and deciding that I was going to run out of yarn before it was done so I cast it aside intending to rip it out. Instead, I picked it up again and started decreasing from where I left off. It worked out just fine.

The pattern is here. It is called the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret.

Yippee, I had another finished project but nothing to knit in the car. After more scrabbling around, I found a pattern for mittens and some leftover yarn. These are Ambroso mittens. They turned out a little small but made a nice gift for a friend with small hands.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Break

Ray doesn't like to miss classes (his parents agree) which leaves school holidays for family trips. Jury duty, my part time job, airfares, weather and highway conditions were all factors that we considered before we decided to pile in the car and drive to Reno to see my family over Christmas break.

Road trip

Two pair of glasses, Dave?
It is always great to see everybody. Our mother seems sort of regal to me now, I've just realized. She is the head of the family, the eldest. The fog of her Alzheimer's has thickened, though, and my siblings warned me that she no longer appears to recognize who we are. She used to say "Hi, daughter" or "There's my family" when one of us came to visit; now, we guess, she only knows that we are there to see her. I saw her face brighten when she first saw me. She didn't look puzzled. She didn't say hi or anything at all. She just lit up for a flash and then looked away.  

It was good to have my sister's grandchildren along for the visits to Memory Care. Little kids dash around and play catch and ask questions and have plenty to say so there is no need to direct conversation toward a person who can no longer engage.  We brought in a swirl of activity and then we left. 

Goodbye Mom, I love you. Okey dokey.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


What is it?

A mini-quilt?
A wall hanging?

It is 10.5" x 15".
It was inspired by this tutorial.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sampler Quilt Finished

One thing led to another with this quilt. It started with an urge to try a new technique - paper piecing - and grew into a lap sized quilt.  I sashed the twelve blocks with Kona Snow and used scrappy cornerstones to break up the white.  Soft flannel backing and cheerful striped binding finish it off.  

The machine quilting was done on my home sewing machine.  I wanted dense quilting because of all the small chunks of fabric and quarter inch seams.  In some places, eight seams come together so the quilting was needed for strength. The Free Motion Quilting Project, is a blog that is a great resource for different quilting patterns.  I used one called Spiral Knots. My finished product wouldn't do well in a judged quilt show but it will definitely hold the three layers together for a good long time. I will get better with practice.

Below are a couple of blooper shots from piecing the blocks. One can sew merrily along for quite awhile before even noticing that something is way off.

Finished size: 43" x 57"
Backing:  Erin McMorris Greenhouse Flannel
Binding: Ready Set Snow Candy Stripes

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Windows Quilt

This quilt was inspired by a pattern for a sewing machine cover in the book, Fresh Quilting by Malka Dubrawsky. I liked the way the simplicity of the block seemed to give the quilt some movement, some vibrancy and that the blocks were big enough to highlight the fabrics.  When I came upon these ethnic appearing fabrics, most by Marcia Derse, at the downtown fabric store, I knew the combination would work well.  

I am happy with the quilt and sent it off to my sister as a gift.  I warned her to wash it in cold water and to use a Shout color catcher for the first laundering as I am a little worried that the red will run.  

It is hand stitched with embroidery floss inside each colored block.  I was planning to stitch a line or two along the neutral sashing but the quilt sat there for a bit while I considered whether or not it was needed and I eventually decided against it. The binding fabric is the feature fabric of the line and it didn't seem to work as one of the blocks but does well on the edges, I think.

The back was made with available materials.  Somehow, using what I had was the most important criteria while fashioning the backing.  It's okay - I don't love it but it isn't awful.

The finished size is 52" x 68.5".

Thursday, December 01, 2011

More Summer Sampler Blocks

I have twelve blocks completed now for the Summer Sampler Quilt.  These first two were paper pieced with instructions from the Summer Sampler Series.

Evening Star

Kansas Dust Storm
 Two of the blocks are traditional, but I found cutting directions in a Fons and Porter magazine, Sampler Quilts and Blocks.

Churn Dash

Windblown Square

I followed the directions here for this next block, called Alpine Cross.

The last two blocks to make the blog were just sort of put together. Neither one is very original but they were not done with a pattern.

Yesterday I received a delivery of fabric for constructing the rest of the quilt.  I feel like 12 blocks is enough and think I will be able to find a layout that is suitable to finish this one off very soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Boeing Factory

Dave and I talked about taking a trip to Oregon this weekend for the Thanksgiving break. Ray was out of school and I wasn't working so it is one of the few times during the school year that we can all get away together for a few days. We would drive down the coast, stop and see some friends and relatives, maybe go to the Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville (again). But, as it turns out, the teenager didn't want to go. Too boring. He wanted to stay home and we were okay with that.

Everybody wanted to go to Everett, however. We took Ray and a friend on a tour of the Boeing factory, the world's largest building (by volume!), where 747s and several other types of commercial aircraft are built by the hundreds. 38,000 people work there. The building is Ginormous! - and was probably the most impressive part of the day.  This picture shows about 1/12th of the factory floor. In the gallery, I could stand next to the vertical part of the tail section of a 747, which was over 30 feet tall, and see the engines and wheels up close, giving me a better idea of how big these jets really are.

Can it really be true that the paint for these planes comes in one gallon cans? That's what the guide said...

Photo by David Brown
Used by permission

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Summer Sampler Quilt

An urge to learn paper piecing techniques has led me to a summer quilt along using spring colors in the fall. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

The first block was Starry Night.

Starry Night

The woman who wrote the tutorial for that block co-hosted a quilt along called the Summer Sampler Series. She and two other bloggers posted instructions for 12 blocks over a four week period, and since the Internet is such a handy storage device, it didn't matter that I was late to the party.


Lucky Pieces

Greek Cross

Star of Virginia

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rivercat Socks

The Daughter came through town a couple of days ago. Refreshed from a month in Hawaii and a trip down on the Alaska ferry, she had her belongings in a bulky backpack and is ready for the next phase of her life. She wants to live on a boat and/or go to graduate school; the plan is vague but she is acting her age. She has another 10 day trip to Oregon before she catches a bus to Bellingham, the place she has chosen for her new home. It will be good to have her close by.

She likes my hand knit socks.  Love that.  I had made up a pair for her and another as a Christmas gift for my friend, Barbara.  I let Katherine choose which ones she liked best and she picked Barbara's Rivercat Socks. She likes the baggy fit and the not-so-lacy design and didn't mind modeling for a quick snapshot on the porch.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Paper Pieced Block

This is my first attempt at paper piecing.  While knocking around the quilt blogs on the web, I found a great tutorial for this pretty block and decided to make up an example to try the technique.  It was easy enough, because the instructions were so clear but it took some attention to avoid mixing things up.  I did have to tear out one small seam. It is all done backwards and behind the back, but once it is complete, it looks nice and neat.

Here's the link for the tutorial:  Starry Night

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Next Quilt

I am close to finishing the next quilt.  Most of the hand quilting is done and I am working on stitching down the binding.  I will do a bit more hand sewing with embroidery floss once the edges are secure.  This one is a gift for my sister.  Once I had the fabric and pattern fixed in my head, I knew who it belonged to. I like when that happens; I can add in a bit more love and affection with every step.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


It seems to be all computers and video games around here but there is evidence that other activities sometimes intrude into a boy's brain.

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Few Small Sewing Projects

Here are a few small sewing projects from the past couple of months.  These were all quick to make and were a way to use up fabric scraps or try a new technique.

A potholder made as a gift for a friend using improvised piecing.

A small pouch, from this tutorial. This pattern is super popular online - because it is well written and explains the little zipper trims very well.

A small bowl, from this tutorial. There is no scale in my pictures, but it is about 2" high and 5" across the bottom.

And a coffee cup insulator, made using this pattern.