Friday, December 31, 2010

A Weeks Vacation Does a Body Good!

Well, Christmas has passed, and tonight is New years... Managed to get all my Chirstmas customers taken care of, and they seemed quite happy with their quilts.  Kids have gone home, Christmas decorations are put away. the house is clean, the STUDIO is clean, and I'm almost caught up on computer stuff.  Have to admit that I spent one whole day in my pajamas watching movies on the Hallmark channel.  Life is good.    Tomorrow, our Thursday Bee is having an all day sew-in at Ann's home.  Sounds like there are going to be 16 of there.  Ought to be cozy!

Speaking of the Thursday Bee, we had our Christmas party a couple of weeks ago and one of the gals made everyone (13 of us) handknit socks.   Here is a sampling of what Mariet created for us!  Our Bee is so giving, we also got handknit scarves, handknit washclothes (YES, this is a quilting Bee), pincushions, ornaments, homemade cookies and so on.  Such a generous, giving bunch of ladies.  When we meet tomorrow, we will decide final instructions for our next block swap which are sets of 2" x 4" Flying Geese - Positive and Negitive in contrasting Batiks.  

I have been doing quite a bit of knitting lately.  Right now, I'm working on a scarf for my daughter, I think the yarn I chose was a little too lumpy to see the actual pattern - but that might be to the good to cover any mistakes I might be making.  Almost done, then needs to be blocked.  This is the Cascade Jewel Hand Dyed yarn that I got at The Hen House awhile back.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I see the light - or I'm almost done!

First of all,  many thanks to all of you that have sent in your t-shirts to be turned into a treasured quilt.  Now, I'm not complaining, I am thrilled hat I've been so busy with customer orders, but  I only 1 T-shirt quilt and 2 custom quilts to finish for Christmas.  I'm hoping that for the most part that they will be done today.    Going to take a week or so off, then get started on the orders that have already come in for the new year.  I am blessed.  Here is a collage of some of the quilts finished up in the last week.

A cousin of mine sent some photos of my grandmother (Annie Scarlett) and her quilts.  This was taken back in the 70's.  My grandmother loved to make quilts, and this is a picture of her standing in front of a quilt that my great-grandmother pieced, then she quilted.    This is my favorite quilt. The 1/2" hexagons are all fussy cut  so that the flower or image all goes around the center hex.  One of my favorite memories was looking at the details when we would go visit as a child.  I still enjoy looking for certain blocks.   We hung this quilt in our "Old Fashined Quilt Bee" booth at Houston Quilt Festival this year.   I think it got more attention than our Raffle quilt!  oops!

Well, back to work, really do want to finish those last quilts up for the holidays!  Wish I would have had time to work on my stuff!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back from Houston Quilt Market

Market actually ended last week, but I had to turn around and go back for Quilt Festival!  I love living in Houston, but trying to get to the GRB (George Brown Center) early in the morning is not the easiest thing to do, so we stay at the Holiday Inn Express, just south of the GRB. (Have to say they love having the quilters there and treat us right with cookies and milk and even a free Lasagne dinner on Friday night!).

Senses have in overload, but finally winding down.  Not sure about my sister-in-law from Cleveland who was a Festival Newbie this year.  She was pretty impressed even though she is more of a seamstress than a quilter.  We found plenty of yarn, fibers and 'bright shiny' things to grab her attention.  I didn't get much in the way of pictures, because my battery died shortly after we got there.

Sharon Schamberg - Closeup
Sharon Schamber won Best of Show for a third time.  Never been done before!  Glad it was her- she is a nice gal and does spectacualar work with her attention to detail.  Look at those tiny herringbone areas around the trapunto.  And using BLACK thread.  The edging is three dimensional as well and there were open cutwork areas in the quilt. 

One of my other 'favorite' quilts that I saw during Market was this one on the right.  It was one of the big winners as well.  check out the colors! I don't remember who made it, but it was awesome as well.

I didn't buy much in the way of fabric - what a shock!  Really did stick to my assumption that I should finish up some projects before starting more.  Of course that does NOT apply to yarn.We went The Hen House ( a local shop) several times as well as many other yarn places.  All had lucious fibers.  I think Laurie got hooked on the Free Form Knitting concept and had several ideas running through her mind.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

To Wash or Not To Wash

 OK, I admit. I NEVER prewash fabrics - Except ... Ok, there are always exceptions, but for the most part - NO, I don't wash them. Now, for those exceptions.  
  • Scraps and fabrics from unknown origins
  • Cheap Fabric (i.e. from Wally World)
  • Recycled fabrics from clothing
  • Smelly fabrics
 You have probably read lots of articles that say not to wash your quilt in a washing machine - to lay it in a bathtub and soak it. Right, ain't gonna happen with my back. But, there is a TRICK to washing scraps, ANY sized yardage or a quilt in the washing machine.
It's easy to eliminate nearly all of the strings on yardage. Just clip off a little triangular section from each corner of fabrics before you wash them. Try about 1/2" or a little less. You'll still see a bit of fraying, but not enough to create bunches of knots. 
Fill the tub-style washing machine with lukewarm water and a tiny bit of detergent* (2 Tablespoons for a full machine).
Load the machine with scraps and/or yardage

KEEP THE MACHINE LID OPEN, to keep it from **accidentally** agitating.

With your hand, or a large spoon, swish the fabrics around in the tub.

Some dyes do not release right away; so try to leave fabrics in the water for at least 20 minutes.   Continue swishing the fabric periodically for the 20 minutes.

Refill tub... and KEEP THE MACHINE LID OPEN.
Swish with your hand.
No fabric ropes; no fraying.

*Use a very gentle soap like Orvus Soap. Orvus Soap contains so phosphates or chemicals that can damage your quilt. You can find Orvus Soap at your local quilt shop.

Drying the Fabric
I'm sure everyone has thrown raw edge fabric in the dryer and ended up with lots of knots and twisted fabrics. What a mess.

You might try laying the fabric on one of those folding racks - or even outside on the clothesline. (Many days in Houston, I must admit that it might take days to dry with all the humidity!). You can dry smaller scraps by ironing them (turn the steam off).

What I have noticed is that the tighter the weave of the fabric, the better they turn out in the dryer. Homespuns are a very loose weave (compared to batiks) and you can pretty much bet that those are going to shrink up in the dryer.

One time, after I completed arranging inherited squares into 25-patches in an intentional and complicated color-pattern on my design wall, I realized that the pre-cut 2-1/2-inch squares had not been washed; lots of bleeders; darks, reds, turquoises.

I had been making a T-shirt quilt, so I took the plain backs of the T-shirts that would have been thrown away, and transferred the 25-patch blocks to the T-shirt fabric, and pinned them on with basting/safety pins.

I ran these through a **DO NOT AGITATE** wash cycle (see above), and they all came out perfectly... and in their original order.

If you have lots of fat quarters or yardage in the SAME COLOR FAMILIES, safety-pin 3 or 4 fat quarters together in the corners. Wash them as a unit. Really cuts down on the wrinkles and twisting.

For larger cuts of fabric, pin the folded fabric in the corners and along the sides. I've pinned as many as eight layers... It can be difficult to pin through, but don't skimp on the safety pins. The more yardage... the larger the folded-over pieces need to be... maybe as large as a beach towel or bath sheet.

Only pin the eight EDGES to keep the fabric from bunching and wrinkling; the center will remain unpinned so that the water can still freely pass through the fabric to remove dyes and chemicals. Fewer layers are preferred, but 8-yard cuts will require more layers.

The pinning requires more TIME... but they do well in the washer AND dryer. When you un-pin the fabric, just smooth it out by hand, and fold; you just don't get the wrinkles like when opening up the fabric completely. 

Pin smaller scraps together. With their combined weight, they will be less likely to get sucked into the washer drain or the dryer screen like individual small pieces could.

Try washing King-size bed sheets by pinning them into quarters; it keeps them from balling up in the dryer.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Quilter's Crossing in Tomball Texas

Quilter's Crossing had a soft opening last week and will have a grand in August.  The shop is in a cute little house, just one block off Hwy 2920.  They do not have all their fabric in stock yet, but more is arriving every day.  They have a huge classroom in a building behind the shop.  It is clean and bright with nice comfy chairs in the classroom.

So if you in the area or even close by it's worth stopping in. And if you have not eaten at the Whistle Stop ... that's great too! Quilt Shop and a tearoom ... sounds like a nice afternoon trip with friends.

It is great  to hear about a shop opening instead of closing ... so spread the word.

Their blog

Friday, July 02, 2010

Buried under quilts!

Well, that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it!  Who would have thought that T-Shirt Quilts could be so popular?   This graduation season is finally over, now I'm starting to get orders for Christmas.  I love it when people plan ahead! 

I did take a little time and worked on one of my quilts this month.  I had wanted to try the Baptist Fan.  Here is a closeup of the quilting .  Apparently, I neglected to take a picture of the whole quilt.  duh. 

Wow!  It has been raining cats and dogs here in Houston.  We are on the 'dirty' side of Hurricane Alex.  Anyway, that means we're getting anywhere from 10-20 inches in various areas around Houston.  Our back yard looks like a giant pond with fish jumping.  Shiner (the dog) does not want to go outside to do his business.  He finally HAD to this evening and was literally dancing by  the back door to get out.  How funny. LOL.

Received the new Quilt Festival Catalog in the mail today.  Since I did so much volunteer work at the show last year, we got our books a week for anyone else - even those that took classes.   Looks like I'm taking a Gail Garber class on Thursday and one from Karen Stone class on Friday.  I'm still trying to decide what to take on Saturday.  Our Bee has 5 rooms at the Holiday Inn reserved.   It's just a block from the George R Brown Center.  Time to figure out who all will be there for sure.    We usually end up with anywhere from 3 to 7 people piled into a room.    Last year we met several ladies in the lobby who were from New York and we all were Knitting.    They were showing us 'newbies' different ways. to cast on.  Hope we meet them again!

Hubby is planning on hiking the Appalacian Trail for a month next Spring.  While we were in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, Robert and Jon did a day trip on the AT Approach.  Apparently it was 8 miles going UP both coming and going (kinda like when our parents walked 5 miles uphill in the snow both ways from school).   This picture must have been on the way UP!  They sure didn't look that fresh after they got home!  LOL.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Babies!!

We have new babies!  They were born March 1 and have already tripled in size.  Meet Gertrude and Gladys - those are the girls on the right.  Shiner is the Blue Healer looking at them, trying to decide if they are toys and what the heck are they doing there.  Since Houston has been so cold, we have their coop in the house, but they will be moving outside as soon as it is not so cold at night. We do take them outside during the day, and they mostly just run around in circles.

The next picture, 'the girls' are a few days older and feathers are popping out all over.  It is amazing how fast they are changing.   They say that chicks will bond to 'big' things, and I think they have bonded to hubby.  They certainly like to climb all over him when he gets them out of the coop.

Everyone has heard of PLARN, which is yarn made from plastic bags.  Not sure what I would ever use anything like that for, but have seen some interesting pictures.   However, I ran across an article from the Green Upgrader about handspun recycled newspaper yarn.  What a cool concept. I think everyone would have to agree that this would be a dying art as newspapers are going the way of the buggy whip.   I know a few peple (mostly older folks) that still get a newspaper delivered, but I find I can get pretty much everything I want to know from the Internet or news channel (Uh, yeah - that would be FoxNews). Anyway, back to making yarn from newspapers.  What is interesting here, is that they actually SPIN the paper, making it stronger and into a material that can be knitted (or crocheted).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Free Knit Scarf Pattern for Beginners!

This is a great scarf for beginning knitters.  I have made several of these for gifts, and my friend Nita makes and sells these at craft shows.


SIZE: One Size (About 5 x 66 in.)

MATERIALS:  1 hank Farmhouse Lumpy Bumpy Wool Yarn or similar
Size 15 Single point Needles
Exact gauge is not essential to this project.

Cast on 12 stitches.
Row 1 (RS): Knit across.
Row 2 (WS): Knit across
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until Scarf measures about 66 in. (167.5 cm) from beginning.
Bind off.

Weave in ends.
Add Fringe if desired

NOTE: Boucle yarns work really well with this type pattern.  Combine more than one yarn to create more interest.  Use larger needles for a looser weave and more drape.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finally unloaded the camera, and found pictures over the last month or so.  I really did plan to get pics loaded here, so there will be a variety of subjects today.
First - just a preview of our Donation Quilt for West Houston Quilters Guild (WHQG).  We're just finishing the last of the applique in the borders and it will be ready to go to the quilter.  Our quilt show is April 2011, so there are lots of details still being worked on.  The batiks almost glow against the black background.  The colors in the picture don't quite do it justice.  What looks red on my screen is actually more of a HOT PINK.

I think I mentioned earlier that I've started knitting.  It's about as addictive as quilting.  Afterall, it is fiber, and both are Fiber Arts!   One of the best ways to learn to knit is to just get in there and do it.  Now, you need to get in your rhythm and learn knit and purl stitches, stitching in the round and so on.  Well, the BEST thing to do with those first projects is to FELT them.  That way, no one sees your mistakes (what mistakes??)  Because, when it is felted, all those little goofs just melt away!  Gotta love it.

My favorite peice that I finished is a little basket. It's done with 100% wool, then washed in the washing machine with hot water.  This is made from Cascade 200 wools.  You can't really tell after it felted, but there is a stripe of varigated green/brown where the knobbie things are.

I have also made several of the obligatory Knit Cushion to hold Knit needles, and other tools.  I did add a 4th layer to the one shown, and made one in reds for my friend Michelle who is also learning to knit.  Nita - you don't get one until you learn to PURL! 

And last but not least, I have to show what NOT to use when felting.  If something says Super Wash, or is not 100% wool, it's not going to be successful.  The dark red is Cascade 200, the pink part is Lion Brand Wool-Ease.  It does not felt at all, and I have a beany sort of hat.  So, I would suggest the Wool-ease for Afghans or anything you want to throw in the wash.  I threw this in twice on HOT. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

January UFO Finished

This little Texas Pine tree star is my first UFO finish for 2010.  Just barely in under the wire, and only because I had to turn it in on the 28th for the  Tri County Quilt show.  Nothing like a deadline to get things done!  (That's weird, this new camera I have dates the pictures to the date you download not the date you took it.  Probably need to read the book.)

Can you believe it?  This is actually HAND QUILTED!!  There is a little bit of blanket stitch and the applique is fused.  A first for me, as I usually do needle-turn.  Oh well, finished is better than perfection.  Did most of the hand quilting in the car on various road trips, which is why it fell into the UFO pile.  Started it a couple of years ago, and found it on a shelf in the closet.

Been doing a bunch of knitting.  Caught that little bug at Quilt Festival of all places!  Anyway, finished several 'little' crafty projects, and am working on a felted rug right now.  It is a quilt pattern (HST - half square triangles) and will show pictures when it is done.  Another of my quilting friends has also started knitting and has already finished a hat and a shrug.  Way to go Michelle!  I realize now that my ambittion to make socks last year was a bit much, but am confident I can do it this year.  Next year I plan to join the sock club at Twisted Yarns in Spring, TX.    Guess I'll have to start a UFO KNIT project list as well.  .

No new fabric purchased this week, didn't cut any fabric or use any, but did work on several swaps where I cut the fabric last week.  Most of the swaps are due later in February.  Will show pictures after we swap.
More later.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stashbusting January 2010

January has 5 weeks, so ought to be able to use up more fabric this month! Here is my report so far:

Used this Week: 14.5 yards **
Used year to Date: 20 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 0 yards
Net Used for 2010: 35.5 yards

** Used
5 yards of a beautiful blue batik for the WHQG quilt show donation quilt.
2 yards various yardage for Bricks swap (due Feb 9)
1 yard various prints for Road to Stars swap (due Feb 2) for KR Bee
2.5 yards various prints for Montana Two Step Swap (for Thursday Bee)
1 yard for 9 patches for new grandmas (great-grandmas) for KR Bee.
1 yard scraps for triangles charm quilt (1000 pyramid type)
2 yards (8 fat qtrs) of various Christmas prints cut into 1.5" strips. Sharing with Nita.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

UFO Finishes!

I had bought the fabric for this quilt back in March 2008 when we were headed for our retreat in Gaveston Texas at the quiltshop Quilts By The Bay. (This was before they got wiped out by Hurricane IKE). I had shown Rachael the fabric after I had bought it and told her that I couldn't do it for her first Christmas (Dec 2008), but would do it for her first birthday. Well, her first birthday was in September 09, but we were in Mexico then and I didn't get around to it. So, after I finished up all the customer quilts before Christmas, I got started on this one. This photo is the stock photo, I'll get an actual picture when we get back to home.

The other quilt that I got finished is a Disappearing Nine-Patch done in Greens and Chocolate Browns for daughter Lindsey. This one had been started at beginning of 2009, and since we didn't do Christmas on the 25th, was able to get it completed for when we did exchange gifts after Christmas.

I think these two are a great start for the new year. I didn't get to play with my quilting buddies who had a sew-in at Ann's house yesterday. Looks like I'll be participating in several block swaps in 2010. Hopefully they won't end up on the UFO list.

Things I Wanted To Do in 2009

At the beginning of 2009, I put together a list of things that I wanted to do or try. These weren't necessarily resolutions, but things that would help me in my journey towards allowing myself to be more creative.

Happy to say I accomplished most everything on the list. Even if I didn't finish it, I at least tried - and maybe decided that wasn't for me. I think I will have to have a 2010 List that will keep me motivated. How about you?