Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 - farewell long dark snowy month

Triangle quilt top - Riley Blake MQG Challenge

I know that the month end report is supposed to be for finishes, but I have been making quilt tops mostly this month - you know, in anticipation of the long arm arriving and needing quilts to learn on and all.

That top up there is my Riley Blake Modern Quilt Guild Fabric Challenge quilt so far. I might have to quilt it on my regular machine as the challenge is over mid February, we shall see. It is about 48" square right now and is made from the set of fat eights sent to me and Kona White. It was great fun to play with improv triangles again.

Blended Scraps top

I don't think I have shown you the finished Blended Scraps top yet, isn't she fun. I can't wait to quilt this one.

Stonehenge top - block by Amy Ellis in the 99 Modern Blocks book

This top is made of blocks I received in the Modern Blocks Bee. The block is called Stonehenge, designed by Amy Ellis for the 99 Modern Blocks Book. It is 36" x 48" right now and I am trying to decide if that is a nice slightly oversized baby quilt or if I should add another row of blocks.

Modern Stitching Bee top

You have already seen this top, made with blocks from my bee mates in the Modern Stitching Bee. I have not yet decided if I will change the border but all the looking has paid off as I have noticed a piecing error I made when putting it together, so I will fix that at the minimum.

Another great thing is that the last three of these four tops are on my FAL list. Lets hope for some finishes in February.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study

I just showed you Radiant Orchid Colour Study, my one finish for January. There will be one more quilt finished tonight before midnight and I will post  about it tomorrow for my Four in Art Challenge group.

Lily's Quilts
As well, tomorrow I will link this post over at Lynne's blog Lily's Quilts for Fresh Sewing Day. I am sure most everyone else will have a lot more lovely projects to show off there.

Oh, and the long arm machine is expected to ship today, and if it does, it is supposed to arrive next Friday, which would be perfect and give me the weekend to get her up and running. Crossed fingers here.



Monday, January 27, 2014

Radiant Orchid Colour Study - Ta Da! (and some exciting news)

Radiant Orchid Colour Study

This quilt is called Radiant Orchid Colour Study. The design was inspired by the work of Josef Albers. Radiant Orchid is the Pantone Colour of the Year for 2014 and I think that the outside right block is probably the closest to it. She is about 53" square after washing and is made from various Kona purples and Kona Snow.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge 
I made this quilt for the quilt challenge that my friends Anne and Adrianne are hosting. You have plenty of time to join in, the link for finished projects opens on March 14.

If you visit often, you know that I am a last minute finisher and will wonder why on earth I imagined, planned, cut, pieced, quilted, bound and washed this quilt over this last weekend - yes it was two days start to finish. Well, on Saturday afternoon I was booked to spend 3 hours trying out a long arm machine at Sparrow Studioz and needed a practice piece.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study - before washing

I woke up early on Saturday and this idea popped into my head as giving me a lot of room to try different quilting designs and also to cover off the purple challenge all in one. Since I am not much of a fan of purple, it did not worry me that my quilting might be far below regular standards, at least it would be done.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study - before washing

I chose a purple thread that looked radiant orchid to me. It was a shiny polyester thread, which runs very smoothly through the long arm and stands out nicely on the different parts of the quilt. I played with a bunch of quilting patterns, and did not use a ruler (except to draw an X in the top right middle square to work around) or a pantograph, I just held the handles and doodled.

The two photos above and below were taken before I washed her. You can see that it is not hard to do matchstick quilting (top right and lower left centre squares) and also a freehand 1/4" grid which just means that you follow the outside of the hopping foot. My new favourite might just be that one in the top right, it is so easy and fast to make that curvy woven look and it looks so good in a nice big colour space like this.

I also tried various all over designs like a regular curvy and also square stipple, both of which go incredibly fast. You can see that I need tons of practice on the clamshells and boxes that are on the left. I expect that after a year or 10 of developing some skill on the long arm that this quilt will make me cringe but today I totally love it.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study - before washing

Despite the fact that my ability to control the machine and to make nice patterns is pitiful, I loved the machine. So much so that I have paid the deposit and will complete all the details early this week. Once that is done, in a week or so a flatbed truck will deliver a shining new Millenium APQS long arm quilting machine and 10 foot table to my door, just in time for my birthday.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study - Back

I backed her with this crazy IKEA print which makes me laugh. I had enough of it prewashed and handy, and it's extra wide so no piecing was required, so it was an obvious choice. And the binding is more Kona Snow and was attached by machine. The overall look of this quilt, back, front and binding is "industrial" as opposed to refined, nicely crafted or even middling perfect. So I am going with industrial modern - as if I did it on purpose.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study

I have long wondered how quilts made with intricate long arm quilting looked after the first wash. The photo above is after a wash and dry. It became soft and cuddly with a nice drape. The tight designs remained well defined but their texture increased and the larger stipple, loops, swirls and daisy loops softened and mellowed nicely.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study

There she is after the wash in lighting that emphasizes the quilting (which happened by accident, not through any clever technical expertise of mine). There are swirls in the top border, a large stipple on the left, loopy loops on the right and a daisy loop at the bottom. Mostly you see nice crinkly goodness until you get closer.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study

And this my best outdoor shot. The purples are pretty true in this photo. I love the colour study design too, and I understand now why Mr. Albers spent so much time making his art. The interactions between the different purples in the calm minimal design is really so pleasing, I might have to write this up as a pattern too.

I hope you are up for details of this long arm adventure, as I am keen to start it and to share it all with you here. For now, I am off to work, this week is back to normal so I hope to post more often here again too.


And I remembered that I can link up with my friend Aylin's Monday Maker group - I am excited to see who else is linked there. I might link to the Tuesday links too, let's see how much time I have tomorrow.



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sewing tech and knitting, it's the weekend.

Featherweight 221-1

My Horizon sewing machine went to the shop to get it's tension and needle adjusted and when they turned it on the motherboard fried. So it is still in the shop which meant no sewing (I do have another beautiful old singer but have I gotten around to getting it operational? Of course not. She will go the shop when I pick up the Horizon.)

 Late yesterday afternoon, I dug into my cupboard and pulled out this little Featherweight. Well, I was not even sure it was a Featherweight, the instagram folks set me straight, as the manual says it is a Singer 221-1 and the serial number says it was made in 1952.  I have owned it for many, many years - my husband picked it up for me at a garage sale for $20 - and I had pretty much forgot about it. Well, turns out after I added oil and fussed with the tension for a while, it works and it is so cute. I need to order more bobbins and needles as I have only one of each.

Follow Your Arrow Mystery Shawl KAL

In the meantime, without a sewing machine, I joined a knit along, the Follow Your Arrow Mystery Shawl KAL, which is here on Ravelry. The KAL is being run by my favourite Scottish knit designer Ysolda. The yarn is angora from Louisa Harding which I had in sufficient quantity in my stash.

By the way, if you knit and have not yet joined Ravelry, you really should - that is where all the internet knitters hang out, there are over 3.8 million members and generally at least 5000 knitters are on line at any time I go there.

Oh and there is one of the scissor tags that I won from Benta at Sarah's online baby shower. They are lovely tags, and now my scissors are safe from careless teenagers, thank you Benta!

Snowfling Mittens

While I am talking about knitting, I finished and blocked my Snowfling Mittens (yarn and pattern from Tanis Fiber Arts). Blocking knitting is just washing the finished product and laying it out to dry after patting it into its correct dimensions. When I washed these I also gave them a lot of firm tugs to even out the colour changes in the stitches. It made such a big difference in how smooth and pretty the mittens are. So don't forget to block your knitting, even mittens and socks, you will be very happy with the result.

Snowfling Mitts

If you look carefully at the in progress photo above you can see the difference. look at how bumpy they are. It is also helpful to know this so you are not so fussed about those bumps as you are knitting them in the first place.

By the way, my Horizon's demise, and Katy's encouragement sent me on a trip to visit here. I am going to return and try one of these out next Saturday. I am caving fast.  What would you do if you had just enough space and probably could manage the financing? I do love the quilting part of making quilts. We shall see what my dear spouse says too.

I hope you are having a great weekend, I have to do day job work today and I have a gruelling week ahead, but I will sneak in some time with that little Featherweight machine too. I guess I need to name her.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Back to sewing, some progress is happening

Modern Stitching Bee top

So now that the 2013 FAL is finished (you can have two days to join in the Q1 2014 FAL fun, go to Katy's blog here), I can focus on just plain old sewing. This weekend I made some more blocks and put together the top of the blocks I received from the talented women in the Modern Stitching Bee. Turns out that asking for these square in square, or economy blocks put me ahead of the curve, as they are now all the rage on instagram. But, now I am debating the borders.

Should I take off those borders and change out the hourglass blocks for ones with three white triangles and only one text/stripe triangle. I should have thought about this harder, what would you do?

Snowfall in progress

I have also gotten started on Snowfall. I am hoping with this latest quilt in my cycles series you might think of a heavy snowfall of big fluffy flakes - the kind that blot out the view so you see twinkles of colours in between. I expect I will stop at 16 circles but maybe I could go up to 25, I am not sure. And yes, she will have matchstick quilting.

Oakshott Italy Bundle

The minute I saw this stunning Italy bundle that Michael from Oakshott sent me just before the holidays, I imagined Snowfall. The Italy fabrics are made up of one thread of grey and one of colour, muted and beautiful.

Oakshott Italy Bundle

Of course, they are also hard to photograph and look even better in person. It feels so calming to work with muted colours after the bold colours in Sunset.

Blue Ice improv block

I spent my sewing time last night making this huge - 24.5" x 18.5" - block for Katy in the Modern Stitching Bee. It is based on the Blue Ice blocks in the Quilting Modern book. I love doing improv, and I need to remember that. It is fun and relaxing with fun and unexpected results. I have a couple of challenge quilts to make before the month's end, and now I know, they will be improv for sure.
           WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

So that is enough of my progress for today, I will link up the WIP Wednesday groups and I hope to have time to check in with the other links there too. You might want to do that too.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The winners of Q4 of the 2013 FAL

she can quilt

Today is the last of my 2013 FAL hosting duties. I have to say it has been a blast to host the Finish-A-Long. I have met new bloggers, seen fantastic work, met generous sponsors and worked with talented tutorial writers. Thank you to everyone who has participated in and supported the 2013 FAL. 

As I read through all the Q4 links, I was again inspired - by the beautiful projects and by the fantastic stories behind the projects. I tried to comment on at least one finish from each of you, but if I missed you rest assured it was due to my lack of time, as all the of finishes are lovely. 

If you have time, visit the finishes (go here for Q4) and comment if you can, as I know everyone loves comments on their finishes. Also, I will keep my 2013 FAL page open indefinitely, and it has links to all the tutorials and all the 2013 link up pages for your future reference.

Now, without further ado, here are the Q4 FAL winners, all chosen by the random number generator. Congratulations to each of you and I will be emailing each winner later today. If you see yourself here first, please email me. 

The winner of the gift certificate from the Fat Quarter Shop is Jennie, who blogs at Jennie's Threads for this beautiful quilt finish:

The winner of the Moda Jelly Roll from Green Fairy Quilts is Marci, who blogs at Marci Girl Designs, for this wonderful quilt finish:

The winner of the gift certificate from the Green Stitch Co. (formerly the Organic Stitch Co.) is Lisa who blogs at Lisa in Port Hope for this quilt finish:

Merry Stars quilt

The winner of the charm pack from Simply Solids is Ella who blogs at Throw a Wrench in It, for this lovely bag finish:

NY Beauty Bag

The winner of the gift certificate from Fluffy Sheep Quilting is Tamara who blogs at Meine Kleine Welt (My Little World) for this lovely runner:

The winner of the gift certificate from Knotted Threads is Mary who blogs at Tosty's Quilting Tidbits with this lovely quilt finish:

The winner of the gift certificate from Pink Chalk Fabrics is Kirsten who blogs at Gemini Stitches for this wonderful table runner:

Chevron Christmas runner for the DUDQS Xmas swap.

Quilter in The Gap
Surprise Package from Rhonda at Quilter in the Gap

The winner of the surprise package from Rhonda, Quilter in the Gap, is Amy who blogs at [Amy's] Crafty Shenanigans for this lovely quilt finish:

£25 Gift Certificate from Tikki London

The winner of the gift certificate from Tikki London is none other than our new FAL host, Katy who blogs at the Littlest Thistle, for these wonderful pillows:

The winner of the gift certificate from Pink Castle Fabrics is Alison from flickr, with this lovely finish:

Crossknot - front

The winner of the fat quarter bundle from Sew Sisters Quilt Shop is Leanne who blogs at Devoted Quilter. She finished this cool messenger bag:

The winner of the fabric bundle from Sew me a Song is Jennie who blogs at Porch Swing Quilts, with this lovely finished quilt:

The winner of the patterns from Melissa at Happy Quilting is Jade, who blogs at Stitch Mischief, with this beautiful finish. By the way, the random number generator did, in fact, generate the very last link, showing that a last minute link is well worth the chance to win:

The winner of the gift certificate from Rachel from Image Gnats  is Jody, from flickr,  who made this cool halloween curtain

The winner of the patterns from Sara at Sew Sweetness is Beth who blogs at Hello Quilty Lady who finished this beautiful quilt:

The winner of the giant pincushion from Sheila, the Blue Patch Quilter, is Hadley, who blogs at Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle for this wonderful quilt finish:

Thank you again to our generous sponsors! And as usual, I have borrowed pictures of all the winning finishes from the winners, if you would prefer that I did not post your photo, just let me know and I will take it down.

Finish Along 2014

And if you have not yet made your Q1 list for the 2014 FAL, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Littlest Thistle here, to join in the fun with our fantastic new host, Katy

Finally, Rhonda, from Quilter in the Gap, the lifetime boss and creator of the FAL, is having a give away this week to get the 2014 FAL started. Do go here and enter.

I'm late for work, but did not want you to have to wait any longer on the Q4 prizes. Winners, watch for your emails later on, I will try to sneak them in over the day.