Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Cat Patterns

Someone found my blog by searching for "scrappy cat quilts" and that seemed like such a good idea I had to go take a look myself and see what the rest of the results were.

I didn't realize how many patterns for cat quilts there are out there -- and how many of them are free online! There's a list at Cats and People Who Quilt and a different one at Free Quilt Patterns. Some of the links are dead, because that's the way the world works, but there are some really cute ones still available.

I adore "Cat and Her Favorites" and "Dress" at Kitten's Mitten.They're both way beyond my technical skills, but I've got both patterns downloaded for someday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Done!

HPIM1737


I absolutely can't wait until April to quilt this on the longarm. I'm not sure I have the nerve to try freemotion quilting it on my machine, but I've got such a perfect image of the quilting design I want to use, and I know the perfect backing is out there somewhere. I've just got to do some shopping.

HPIM1739

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Felting this bag was way too stressful.

HPIM1736


The base and handles lost all stitch definition before the body even started to felt. The stupid Whirlpool Cabrio throws in spin cycles whenever it feels like it (I think it's trying to balance the load) and I wound up with those permanent creases I'd read so many warnings about. Then the hot water ran out along with the last of my patience.

I threw it in the washer again the next day and it came out better than I'd hoped for. The sides are a little lopsided, but I think that's probably a blocking problem that I can fix if I ever find anything the right size to block it around.

I'm going to take a break from felting for a while. After the double dumpling disaster, I don't have the nerves for it.

The yarn I used for the embroidery felted more than the yarn I used for the bag itself, so it pulled in the middle and left it shaped more like a peanut than a dumpling.




I wound up taking a seam ripper to the embroidery and prying it loose from the rest of the bag. It took two hours to pick every bit of green fluff out, but after felting it a bit more, I did wind up with the pretty bag I would've had if I'd gone with my first instinct and left off the vine.

HPIM1727

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I don't know when to stop.

I’ve been working on the scrappy cat quilt off and on for months. At first, I hoped I might be able to scrounge up enough similar but different dark florals for sixteen blocks. Then it looked like I’d be able to get twenty, maybe twenty four…

HPIM1732


I kept digging through my stash and finding more fabrics, then Mom contributed a few of her scraps, then I found a great estate sale. Whoever that woman was, she’d stashed exactly the fabric I need for my cats and it’s no longer a question of whether I’ll be able to find enough different fabrics, it’s a matter of when to stop.

Yesterday, I laid out the blocks I had finished and compared them to the big bag of fabric scraps that might be cats in hiding. The plan was to pick enough fabrics to make a total of 36 blocks (would make the quilt 66x81). But I kept finding great ones I don’t want to leave out and now I’m thinking maybe I should make 42 blocks (which would make the quilt 77x81)…

I thought I was making a little throw for the couch, not something to fit a bed! The crazy part is that I don’t particularly enjoy making these blocks, but I’m in love with the idea of them.

I’d be perfectly happy with a bed-sized quilt – I’m just not sure I want to piece all of those cats. And I’m afraid that the second I call it done and quilt it, I’ll wish I’d made it bigger. It doesn’t help that somewhere in my sewing room are another six cats I cut and then misplaced. I was keeping the pieces separate between the pages of a notebook, so the odds are high that the kids took off with the book and they’re gone forever. I’ve finally given up on those.

This whole project has me feeling weirdly compelled. I never look at my quilts as future heirlooms, but I see grandbabies snuggled under this one. And in that silly daydream, it’s a bed quilt…

For now, I’ve set aside enough dark florals to bring my total up to 42 blocks and I’ll cut out the pieces before putting them back in with the rest of my stash. Then I’ll see how many I actually feel like piecing. I won’t be able to use Mom’s longarm until April anyway, so I’ve got time to wait and see.

And now that I’ve figured out how much to set aside for the cats, I can use the rest of my wonderful darks to start a scrappy spool quilt. Which is what I really really want to make right now. I also want to start another cat quilt.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yesterday afternoon Bill took a nap, the kids wanted to play outside while it was still sunny, and in that short stretch of time, I got more done than I would've imagined possible.

The last muslin squares for the dot to dot quilt are cut and the dots are fused in place. Now I've got to do the buttonhole stitch, which I can work on while the kids are doing schoolwork or we're watching tv in the evenings.

I finished the top stitching on the candy skull bag I started with Alex and a friend a couple of weeks ago --



It wasn't the best project for the two girls to start on, and my own bag didn't come as nicely as I'd hoped it would. I bought this fabric a while back and always meant to use it for a bag, but now that it's done I'm wishing I'd saved it for a better project.

I also got the pieces of the lobster together, except for the claws. Having him look more like a lobster makes me feel a little more inspired to cast on for those.

After the kids were in bed, I finished Alex's new cardigan.

HPIM1730


Pattern: Fresh Picked Color 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan (a Lion Brand freebie)
Yarn: Vanna's Choice Solid (3 skeins)
Needles: Denise 10

I read the pattern and reread the pattern and was sure I knew what I was doing -- and totally forgot the shaping at the tops of the sleeves until I'd joined them to the body and knit ten or fifteen more rows. It took an entire evening to frog back to the point where the pieces joined and get them separated and then get them back on the needles and ladder up the stitches that had dropped too far down and I came within an inch of tossing the whole thing.

A disaster at a time I'm getting better at fixing these things.

Next project to tackle is the French Market Bag. I'm almost ready to start dividing it for the handles.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What's on my needles

I didn't realize I had so many WIPs going, then I got a good look at my sidebar and my Ravelry page. Yikes! There's been so much going on lately that I completely lost track of what I had set aside.

Then I started looking for needles to cast on a few new projects and had to figure out why there weren't any. Weird thing is that most of these aren't using the needles I'm looking for. They must be in the bottom of an abandoned knitting bag somewhere.

So, in an effort to actually figure out what I was knitting before the rest of my life got in the way, here's a current list of WIPs with progress reports --

Fresh Picked Color Cardigan

I thought this one was in an endless black hole, but as of last night the bottom section is finally long enough and I've only got ten more rows on the second sleeve. Then it's on to the yoke and I'll finally have a Denise cable free to start my own cardigan -- hooray!

French Market Bag

After the instant gratification of the Dumpling Bags, this thing is taking forever and ever and ever...

Lobster

Mine is nowhere near as cute as the one in the pattern pictures. But he's done except for his claws, so I might as well finish him.

Alex's Tank

I've already almost finished this project once, but it was too small so I started over and then I cut my hand and had to put it aside and now it's too cold for tank tops even if I do finish the thing.

Shark Bite Hat

I've got an idea for starting over from the teeth up, but not the time or enthusiasm.

Noviembre Socks

Were going just fine until I cut my hand. I really should finish them.

Casablanca KAL

I was doing great until the clues started to get really long and I didn't think I could keep up, so I didn't try too hard. I should get it out and try to figure out what clue I left off on.

Mystic Waters

Got set aside before a trip and forgotten after we got home.

B&B Pullover

I'm sure it's around here someplace.

Alterknits Wrap

Got shuffled up to the sewing room. I think the pattern is actually with it this time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dot to Dot

Have I mentioned that I love the new quilt?

HPIM1728


The pattern is Dot to Dot (Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, January/February 2007). I don't remember seeing it when I first got the magazine, but it leaped out at me when I was flipping through some back issues a couple of months ago. I've become just a little obsessed with finding patterns that will use up the scrap bags but won't leave me with a dozen quilts that all look the same.

The big dots really show off some gorgeous prints I like but wouldn't want to base an entire quilt on. I decided to do the blanket stitch by hand instead of machine, expecting it to take forever, but the whole thing is going together fast.

I didn't have enough muslin to cut all of the dot blocks at once, so I've got sixteen or so of those to go, then it's ready to be assembled.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I finally got a big chunk of time to myself. Translation -- I was up until 2am, first playing with the new quilt and then adding a few rows to a cardigan for Alex. When I did finally make myself go to bed, my mind was still racing so I didn't actually fall asleep until several hours later. Leif, who fell asleep really early last night, crawled up onto me at about seven to tell me he loved me.

I'm running on maybe three hours of sleep and not much caffeine -- yet -- and can't wait to pull out the sewing machine and piece more blocks.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm happily drowning in yarn and fabric and ideas, which I haven't had time to blog about. I've got a couple dozen different projects I want to be working on and it seems like every time I turn around, I find more things to add to the list. Which is fine with me. Some will get done and some will never get started, and I'll have a lot of fun planning them in my head.

Oh, and I'm no longer sulking about the Simply Soft.

Last Friday I went up to Salem to help a friend with a quilting project. Which means I spent the evening telling her "I'd go ahead and leave it, but every other quilter in the world would probably tell you to rip it out." At least when I tell her she should redo something, she takes me seriously. Despite my hopeless attitude toward quilting accuracy, her log cabin came out gorgeous.

And since I was up there anyway, we stopped at the one Walmart I didn't have time to hit when I was looking for Simply Soft. That store had plenty of it marked down, but not the colors I was pining for. They called the store in Dallas (hey, it's only another fifteen miles each way) and they had six skeins of one of the colors and would hold them for me.

They didn't actually hold the yarn, but when I got there, they had plenty -- including the colors they said they were out of. I'm not going to complain about that. If they have to get rid of my favorite yarn, at least I got to pick up a bunch of it on clearance. I have enough Simply Soft to last a long, long time.

Grandma found me two more huge bags of quilting scraps at the thrift store and this afternoon I went through them both and pulled out everything that didn't fit even my loose definition of quilting cotton. I saved the solid colors and some wool and the rest is in a huge bag that I need to find a home for. Tomorrow I think I'm going to try to tackle the rest of the scrap bags.
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