>> Sunday, February 27, 2011

Last week was a scarf-filled week for some, though not for me. I missed a workshop on scarfing -- the art of wearing scarves. So scarfing wasn't the actual workshop topic, but it turns out scarfing can be an effective way to promote events when the speaker is an expert scarf-er (some women are very talented in the art of scarfing). And although not the main topic, scarves were displayed and discussed. Later in the week, I got in trouble for wearing a scarf at the archives. Well, I got in trouble before entering the archives as the security guard (very nicely) told me I had to remove my scarf and return it to my locker as "no scarves allowed" prevails in the archives (silk kerchiefs, however, are acceptable). That day was a little chilly.

My current work situation therefore curtails my scarf-wearing. But I really do like wearing and making scarves. I made my own version of Anna Maria Horner's infinity scarf with some voiles from her Little Folks collection. I adjusted the tutorial in a couple of ways: I chose voile for both sides, I used 9" cuts (rather than 18"), and I machine-sewed the scarf closed. I'm sure velveteen would make for a rich winter scarf, but I don't own any and the voile version is great year-round. I found 9" to be just fine: I can wrap the loop around 4 times and it takes up plenty of room as is. An 18" version seems like it would be ginormous (which could be a benefit). Finally, I lack the patience to hand-stitch anything. I therefore machine-stitched the very last step and used three parallel lines to make it look finished. Frankly, given the way the scarf loops around one's neck, it's hard to find, much less see, the sewn section. I've had this for a few weeks and love it.


Knitted Treats

>> Saturday, February 26, 2011

I don't knit. This frequently surprises people. I think the logic is that of the crafty folk out there, many knit, and therefore since I'm crafty I must knit.While my grandmother knitted and my mother knits, I never learned how to do so. Perhaps one day I will, but in the meantime I rely on the kindness of friends to provide me with lovely knitted items.

About a month ago, I saw these awesome wristwarmers. And wanted some. So I posted them on facebook and asked if any of my knitter friends might like to do a craft exchange. Michelle, a college friend who made me a lovely purple chenille scarf in college, volunteered to make me some, as soon as she finished her grading (she's a science teacher).

The grading was pretty quick because a couple weeks ago, my new wrist warmers arrived. When she asked me what color(s), I said no pink but any saturated colors would be fabulous. And she selected this lovely cranberry and deep yellow combination.

She also included a coordinating hat, made with fun variegated yarn. I love the braided-twisty part of the wristwarmers -- I'm sure there's a technical knitting term, but I'll work with descriptive words for now. I'm making Michelle a Lickety Split bag in return, and need to finish it.


Design Via Savvy Shopping

>> Sunday, February 20, 2011

Over the past 5 weeks, I've been inching my way towards a quilt for my sister and her husband. They got married in November but since quilt presents do not emerge fully formed with the press of a button, there was no chance that I would bring a wrapped present with me to the event. At that time, I had started collecting some fabric for it, but hadn't even settled on a design. The design changed a lot as I toyed with a lot of options and variations on those options. The only constant was the color scheme: red, black, and white. My sister has always loved this color combination and they used it for the wedding, so that decision was easy. Then, at a SE Michigan Craft Meetup, Emily told me about Lake Street Mercantile in South Lyon, MI. In early November, I went to check it out. Their collection has some modern fabrics alongside, shall we say, less modern fabrics. They also have a nice little sale room in which I found the black and white "big harlequin" print (above left) half-off. Anyone who knows my sister knows that she is an excellent bargain shopper and, indeed, takes immense pride in her shopping savvy. I decided to design the back of the quilt around this fabric.

My sister claims she only reads my blog when I post about travel (how she knows when this happens, I'm not quite clear. Perhaps my mother passes on the information). In any event, while I'm tempted to show the full front and back "flimsies" -- the pieced front and back before being quilted -- I'm going to stick to partial pictures of each. In the case of the front, the wrong side will have to suffice. I'm going to baste the quilt as soon as I finish posting, so hopefully I'll have a quilted and bound quilt to reveal soon. I may need to get some more fabric for the binding, however, as I forget how much fabric the binding of a big quilt requires.


Signs of Spring

>> Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm still wearing a coat, but I didn't need my hat or gloves over the past couple days -- either in the midwest or in DC. I spent a long weekend in Chicago and Ann Arbor, catching up with friends, taking care of a few things, and watching Stanford's women's gymnastics team eek out a win at Michigan. Go Card!

A little over a week ago, I sent this quilt across the country to California. While it was still cold over here, the quilt makes me think of spring. I made it last spring, out of some of the scraps and pieces from this quilt. "Signs of spring" refer less to the time of creation and more to how the bits of color offset the gray -- the "it" solid in quilting and home decor for the past few years.

I alternated between larger color blocks and smaller ones swimming in gray, offset with a little white. Other than the solids, I didn't add any other fabrics; it was fun figuring out what I could make with a set pile of fabric. I don't recall the exact dimensions, but it turned out to be something like 40" x 60".  It turns out a lot can emerge from a small pile of scraps.

The frogs and tiny mushrooms are some of my favorite little pieces in this quilt. I used lavender thread to quilt and created wavy lines every couple of inches -- all with a standard piecing foot.

A little Echino found its way into the quilt. I find the the warm pinks, oranges, and yellow striking against the cooler gray. I backed it with a layer of colorful flannel, the same flannel I used to back this quilt. This quilt stayed with me for about 9 months before its recipient materialized. I rather liked pulling it out and looking at it during that time, often thinking I should have made it just a touch bigger so I could keep it for myself.

But sometimes you meet friends of friends and they're just awesome. And these days, even if you don't see people all that often, facebook allows for staying in touch and knowing what's going on in other people's lives. I actually think the biggest benefit of facebook is staying connected with people who might otherwise fade away because of distance or business. And when Sadie was born, I just knew this quilt was for her; while I don't yet know her, I know her parents are fantastic, interesting, and engaging people who will raise a really cool daughter.


DQS Design Decisions

>> Thursday, February 10, 2011

Image credit: The Silly BooDilly

I first learned about Pojagi, a Korean patchwork style, from Victoria's blog. It uses the seams created by sewing 2 pieces of fabric together as a design element, rather than an unfortunate byproduct that needs to be hidden. Some DQS partner-stalking (all good-natured, of course), I realized that my partner seems to like Japanese fabrics and Asian-inspired design. I posted a question about Pojagi, since the finished product is different than a standard quilt. After receiving positive feedback and interest from DQSers, I decided to go with this new technique (for which Victoria handily posted a tutorial).

She recommends using thinner fabrics (e.g., muslin instead of quilting-weight cotton) and lighter shot cottons in particular. Shot cottons are solids woven with different colors in the warp and the weft, thus creating a more visually interesting solid. I found some blue, green, and grey options that I'm contemplating, though I'm still on the lookout for the right color. I think this is an "I'll know it when I see it" situation, and I've been drawn toward purples of late. Maybe purple with a touch of blue or grey? There's also something about green (thinking of spring?) that seems appealing as well. Decisions, decisions...


Inspiration From Below

>> Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A couple weeks ago I was walking by the new Newseum. It was a gray, rainy day, and was still drizzling as I walked past on my way to lunch with friends. In an effort to not wipe out, I paid more attention to the ground beneath my feet than I usually do. I noticed that the bricks were not standard-issue red or poured concrete. Rather they were these marvelous shades of purple, mauve, and orange.

After leaving the archives today, I went back to the Newseum with the primary purpose of taking pictures of these bricks. The color -- the dusky but saturated cool purples and warm oranges -- and layout both strike me as the foundation for a lovely quilt, perhaps made of solids or a combination of solids and shot cottons. Solids have really taken off as the basis for quilts lately, and it's a trend I'm really enjoying. I know my stockpile of solids has grown considerably over the past year, and I look forward to using them.


The Last Half-Dozen

>> Saturday, February 5, 2011

I've been plugging away at blocks for a quilt. They're 12"x12" string blocks, and I've learned that it takes me about 1 hour to make 2. I'm making 30 in total, and have 6 left to complete. By the end of the weekend, I should have them done, and if I'm diligent, may even have a quilt top pieced. Following a tip from Cara, I'm using scrapbook paper as the foundation of the blocks (I considered making her urban lattice quilt, but ultimately opted for a string quilt).

It's mostly black and white, with a splash of red -- in the center and randomly inserted into the blocks. I'm not totally sure about the random red strings, but I think they'll add a bit of interest to the overall quilt. Piecing the string blocks onto paper makes me excited to try out some other paper-pieced blocks. Until then, however, I've got 6 more blocks to finish...


Playing Around

>> Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I've got 2 major projects -- both overdue wedding gifts -- that top my to-do list. These strips will help make one of them. I'm a little over a third done with the blocks that will make the quilt top. It's been a little stop and go in terms of quilting. Some days the motivation is there, other days it flags. I'm getting accustomed to a schedule set by the hours archives and libraries are open -- a pretty standard work-day schedule but different than having a lot more control over my time and when I work. I'm hoping to get some more blocks done this week; I've learned that I can make about 2 12" square blocks per hour. When I get into a zone, that hour moves quickly.


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