Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Children's Literature Course

What I'm quilting these days are stories! I finally re-opened a Children's Literature course I signed up for years ago. How wonderful that I could do that - as opposed to just losing the investment I had made.

I'm really enjoying crafting stories for my grandchildren - and am also interested in becoming a published writer.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Romantic Silk Sweater

This is another of those projects that I have been quite fascinated with because of the yarn, which was handspun in Nepal from silk scraps from a sari factory in India.

It was a project that took me quite a while to complete, and sometimes I wondered if I had the stamina to complete it. Unfortunately, it sometimes aggravates my shoulder and arm when I knit a lot.

BUT, I've done it! This project is for my daughter, who lives in Kansas. I think she will get a lot of use from it; because it is nice and warm.

Yes - I know - it looks like I am drinking a strange concoction. That's because I am on a Juice Feast. I've found juice feasting to be a delightful way to improve my health, and lower my weight.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Woolen Shawn - Trellis Design

I am very attached to this project for several reasons. First of all, I designed the pattern myself using a book of knit stitches as a reference. I love the trellis design.

Secondly, the wool was from a sheep I adopted for a year. His name was Toral. He was named after a Star Trek character. I got letters from him throughout the year, with pictures. Then when it was time to shear him, the shepherdess sent me the wool. Well, actually, I had her send it for processing, so that it could be made into yarn.

The color of this wool fascinates me. No matter what color I put it next to, it seems to blend. Sometimes it has a greenish cast. Sometimes it looks purple. Sometimes it looks brown. Sometimes it looks grey.

I feel really nice and cozy wrapped up in this stole. I made a simpler one once before, and gave it to my sister-in-law. I had been missing it ever since.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Panda Bear Quilt

(Click on any photo to see full size photo)

Hooray! Another UFO bites the dust! The fun feature of this quilt is the set of squares received in a swap. I sent some of the panda fabric, and some of the white/black plaid to each participant of the swap. They combined it with any fabric of their choice to make a 6" square in the design of their choice. I then combined it with various green fabrics and additional panda fabric.

I really enjoy making my quilts reversible, and was pleased to find this bear fabric panel for the reverse side. I was, of course, entranced by my granddaughter Kyra's reaction when she received her quilt. I gave it to her the day we were leaving on a family trip, and she enjoyed using it in the car, and at her cousins' house.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Graduation Quilt for a Baseball Playing Chef

Here is another graduation quilt - this one delivered VERY late! As with the Sunset Quilt made for my sister Nicki, I was given a set of colors to work with prior to beginning this quilt. My nephew Ian requested only bright colors. I asked if it would be okay to use fabrics in which the main colors were the reds, yellows and oranges and he said, "No, I only like the bright colors. I loved the border fabric I used on this one, wild mustangs on a black background.

Personally, I lean towards the cool colors; so this was quite a challenge for me. As you can see, it turned out quite nicely. In addition to using the warm colors that Ian loves, I looked for fabrics that reflected his interests. He used to be very involved in baseball. Prior to a bad accident that nearly blinded him in one eye, he had plans to play professional ball. He is quite the musician, specializing in drums. And - as I was finishing up the quilt, he had gone to chef school. I also included some nature fabrics, to reflect the sensitivity to beauty that I see in him.

Once again, I had fun with the back side of the quilt. You can also see, in this photo, the construction method I use for my projects. I never quilt the whole thing at once, as I find this very uncomfortable. I quilt sections, and then use binding strips to put them together, folding over the binding on the back side of the quilt and tacking it down. I use this same method to attach my borders.

In this closeup of the backside of the quilt you can see two of the great baseball fabrics I found and the stippling I used to do the quilting. Also apparent is the binding strip between the border and the body of the quilt.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bargello Heart Quilt

This quilt was a present for my oldest son Walt and his then girlfriend Cindy. I told them it was a premarital quilt, as it was a wedding quilt in anticipation of the event. Cindy is on the left, I'm in the center, and of course that is Walt on the right.

I used several new techniques on this quilt. First of all, it was my first bargello quilt. I must say that the construction was a bit daunting! However, I am VERY pleased with the final product.

This was also the first time that I followed the design itself for the quilting process.... and EACH round of the heart was quilted. This resulted in a shrinkage of about 4" in the width of the quilt, so the borders had to be larger than originally planned.

This is the back side of the same quilt. For the past few years, I have been unable to resist using prints on the back side of all my quilts, and especially enjoy either co-ordinating them with the front side, or creating a "surprise".

Walt and Cindy are very fond of Egyptian themes, and were planning on having a honeymoon in Hawaii... so I combined Egyptian and Hawaiian prints on the back side. If someone didn't know why I used that combo, they would probably wonder about my taste in fabrics. But then again, maybe they will anyway!

Cindy is on the left, and that is me on the right... with VERY short hair. My sister Peg had been going through chemo and when she started losing her hair she decided to just shave her head. Though I didn't shave mine down to the skin, I did use the clippers and cut it down to about 1/4 inch. It was a "sympathy" haircut, so she wouldn't feel so self conscious. It was kind of nice really! VERY easy. Nice and cool.

Voila! Walt, his son Jacob, and Cindy ... cuddled under their new bargello heart quilt. Walter is an actor and a playwright. Cindy is an actress, seamstress, and costume designer. Jacob is up and coming!

My granddaughter Alyssa Marie was an infant at the time this quilt was presented to Walt and Cindy. Here she is wearing her shamrock outfit, made especially for St. Patrick's Day by yours truly, of course! She is about 3 months old.

We just couldn't resist taking a pic of her lying on Uncle Walt and Aunt Cindy's new quilt when we realized the center of the heart looked like wings!

Now here is . . . the rest of the story:

Walt called me from Hawaii, while on his honeymoon. He was quite distressed. They had been scuba diving that afternoon.

While in the ocean, he had felt something bump against his leg and panicked - thinking it was a shark. He looked down to see his billfold floating to the bottom of the ocean floor. He had been so excited about going scuba diving that he had forgotten to take it out of his swimsuit. Every time I think about this incident the picture it conjures up in my mind makes me chuckle.

Fortunately, the authorities allowed Walt to get on the plane to come home, even though he didn't have his driver's license. I think he and Cindy just went to the police station and made a statement that the billfold had been lost. Needless to say, this was prior to 9/11.

About 2 months later, Walt got a package in the mail from Hawaii. His billfold was inside, complete with all the cash that had been in it and his credit cards. There had been some wedding checks as well; but they were of course no good. He was amazed that the money was undamaged. and of course pleased that someone had found and returned it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Baby Quilt with a Gathered Border

When there is a new baby in the house, or on the way, we crafters get so inspired. This photo is of my first granddaughter, Alyssa, when she was just a few weeks old. One of my projects was to crochet this little blue dress for her. Yes, I understand that traditionally blue is for the little boys - but her father thought she would look pretty in blue. And of course she does.

The body of her baby quilt was made simply. I cut 8 inch squares of two fabrics. One was a mottle blue and one was a cherub fabric. Then I put it together with sashing strips.

What made this little quilt really special was the gathered border, made from another cherub fabric. To simplify the process of adding the border, I first rounded the corners of the quilt top. I did this by laying a plate face down on the top. I lined it up with the sides of the quilt, and then traced the curve of the plate at each corner.

In order to add this gathered border, I cut a 4 1/2" strip that was twice the measurement of the quilt edge. I then put a basting thread 1/4" in from each edge of the strip. I gathered one edge, pinning it (right side to right side) to the quilt edge in a 2:1 ratio. I then gathered the outside edge, being careful that the gathers would correspond to the first set of gathers. That was the trickiest part of the whole process.