Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mountain Majesties

I was going to see how my blocks looked in the alternate layouts that the pattern suggested, but after seeing how they looked the other night, I forgot all about that plan until after they were sewn together. I knew I wanted to make another one of these quilts -- now I've got a reason!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shirt buttons make a happy little plink when they're dropped into an old glass jar.

I've got fantasies about making so many utility quilts from old shirts that I fill up the entire jar and have to start on another one. Might be more realistic if I used one of the smaller jars, but this is the one that was in the front room when I started to tear up my first batch of shirts.

I stopped in at the thrift store again Saturday to drop off some old baby clothes and found two more shirts on sale for fifty-cents each. Neither is yellow, but they're both nice. And the owner had an unsalable shirt set aside for me -- wide blue and pink stripes. Unless I'm missing something really obvious, the "stain" is a teeny tiny dot of what looks like ink.

Those three are tumbling in the dryer with the rest of my laundry, and I found a red shirt this afternoon that's going in the next load.

I drove up to Good Will in Albany this afternoon to see if I could find some cheap tennis shoes for the kids to wear out in the mud. There were no little shoes, cheap or otherwise, and the men's shirts were running eight and nine dollars each. Which reminds me why I don't go into Good Will much anymore.

So we went to two other thrift stores. One has had really cheap sale racks sitting out front, so I thought it was worth a try. Sadly, all of the fifty cent clothing was t-shirts. Where was that rack when I was all excited to try the patterns in the Mason Dixon book?

The shirts inside were running about three bucks each, which is fine for shirts that you plan to wear, but more than my budget. They did have super cheap children's books, which seem to be getting harder to find, so we happily left with a stack of those.

The second store had 90% off of all pink tagged clothing. There were hardly any pink tags to be found, but I got my red shirt for forty cents and a Hawaiian shirt for Heath for thirty cents. By then the two little guys were getting ornery, so we had to leave before I could check for sweaters or fabric scraps. But I'm stopping back in there as soon as I can manage it.

I can't wait for the weather to warm up and garage sale season to start!

Last night, I finished piecing blocks for Mountain Majesties and played with the disappearing nine patch blocks some more. I do like the way it creates whirly-gig-thingies when I lay them out together:

I'm fairly sure I have enough squares to make a baby blanket, and I've got some ideas for a pieced border.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yesterday, my best friend spent the day down here to work on her glorified nine patch. While she was pinning and sewing her curves, I worked on Mountain Majesties. The pieces have all been cut for a while now and those blocks were a perfect project for sitting and visiting while we quilted.

The more blocks I got together, the more I thought I disliked some of the colors. I wasn't going to give up on the project because there are so many fabrics in it that I absolutely love (including a few that I desperately wish I'd saved for my applique birds), but I was getting more and more disappointed, at least until I laid the blocks out a few minutes ago to take a picture.

I absolutely love it!

A few of the 1500 missing squares have found their way back to me and instead of pouting that most of the rest are probably never going to be seen again, at least not the way I want to see them, I'm experimenting with a disappearing nine patch. Not sure if I like it in two colors or not, but I've got a bunch of really bright juvenille prints that I'm sure I can do something fun with.

Friday, January 23, 2009

more birds in the air

I really like the way this quilt is coming out --

There are forty-seven blocks laid out here, and yes, they are facing the wrong way, but this is the best angle I could stand at without a bunch of Match Box cars showing up in the picture. Which leads to a problem -- If I'm going to keep making bigger and bigger quilts, I need a bigger floor.

The pattern is for a 72x87 inch quilt. I'd make it a bit smaller, but then I'd have to leave off some of the appliqued birds and I really do want the birds...

It's the cat quilt all over again, with fewer fabric choices.

And speaking of the cat quilt, I've made the unhappy decision that I need to let one of my cats go. It's an adorable kitty, but I used the same pink and black floral on my nine-patch and after several trips through the wash, that little square of fabric looks awful. So it won't be going in the cat quilt.

At least I discovered the problem before it became a permanent part of the quilt.

I also wish I'd saved every selvage I ever cut off of a piece of fabric. This afternoon, I stumbled across Selvagequilt.com and Selvage Blog. Now I desperately want to make potholders.

And I also almost want to knit a sweater.

Knitting Daily has a free pattern up for a worsted weight sweater -- Vienne. I'd absolutely be casting on for this if my brain could handle figuring out the right gauge or size or counting the stitches to cast on. But that toe up stockinette sock foot sitting on my little table is more than I want to think about knitting right now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another trip out to the sewing room, another armload of blue scraps for Birds in the Air. I'm having so much fun picking fabric for this one! If things work out the way I want them to, I won't do more than three or four blocks in any one print. Which means I need at least 25 different blues.

I'm fairly sure I can scrounge that many from the scrap bags, hopefully without dipping into the obnoxious novelty stuff. Bob the Builder isn't going into this quilt.

Last night, I cut and pieced another seven blocks, which brings the total up to fourteen. Out of ninety-nine, if I make the quilt the size the pattern calls for. I think that's a bit bigger than I want, but I can't decide how much smaller I do want to make it. So I'll keep making blocks and save the big decisions for later.

I also frogged Presto Chango and used the yarn to cast on for a pair of Caliente Socks. I love the design, but the pattern is confusing me. And the confusing part doesn't start until after the foot and heel are done. Guess if it doesn't work out, I can just add a few rows of ribbing and make anklets.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I went out to the sewing room to find some more blues for Birds in the Air and yikes! It's far worse out there than I remembered.

Along with the blue fabric, I was also trying to find yarn to knit a pair of Bella's Mittens and some heavy wool from a thrift store sweater to make Alex a bulky pair of socks. Usually, I can find what I want without a whole lot of rummaging, but tonight I'm at a total loss.

I need to reorganize that room, but until the temperature out there gets above 40-some degrees, it ain't gonna happen.

For now, I think I'll bring in the scrap bags one at a time and figure out what needs to be cut into strips and squares and what's nice enough to fold on the shelves. If I can get that done, I'll have a lot more floorspace when I do start working on things up there.

Tonight, though, I'm working on the birds.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm not sure if life is starting to settle down or not, but I did make some time to play this afternoon.

My friend called about her quilt. Guess what -- it's impossible to explain to someone over the phone how to piece a curved seam, even if you've both got the same book and are looking at the same picture. And especially if neither of you has ever done it before!

I wound up cutting pieces for a block of my own to see if I could make it work. And after a false start, I did --

Please ignore the hideous colors. I was using scraps that I'm absolutely sure I didn't mind wasting. The first curved seam didn't line up right, but the next two came out pretty darn good. Which means I can tackle some of the patterns I've been drooling over but held back on because I didn't know how to do curves.

I wanted to try some disappearing nine patch blocks, but my box of squares has vanished. Please tell me that my sons didn't take them while my back was turned. I've got plans for those!

So because I didn't have squares, I cut some triangles. I really want this quilt -- look at those applique birds! -- but hadn't tackled triangles yet. Not unless it was the sew a square and cut it in half variety.

They're not all that scary. Except for the 3/8" thing. My ruler doesn't have a good 3/8" line. I plan on making one with tape, now that I've found what the boys did with it.

I plan on doing the whole quilt in blues, if I can come up with enough of them. Shouldn't be a problem!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm ready to play!

My copy of Scraps & Shirttails was waiting for me at the post office yesterday. I'd ordered it from Amazon sight unseen (something I've never in my life done with a quilting book, especially not one that cost this much!) because I've been so dazzled by the patterns on Bonnie's Quiltville site.

Now that it's in my hands, I'm glad it worked out that way. If I'd flipped through it in the store, I might've talked myself out of buying it. I talk myself out of a lot of books. And this one is just too inspiring to miss. Cutting up thrift store shirts to make utility quilts? I can definitely get excited about that! Not that I should -- with Grandma's knack for finding treasures, I've probably added at least a hundred yards of thrift store scraps to my stash this month. And most of it isn't ugly.

She also found the quilt top, which I think I intercepted on its way to the antique mall. I'm the only one who loves it. (Or was, until Alex saw it.) If it wasn't entirely hand pieced, I'd have no qualms about quilting it and putting it on my bed. But it is, and I've got a feeling it might be too old and fragile for us to use and abuse.

So for now it's folded on the rocking chair in my bedroom where I can admire that gorgeous yellow sashing.

I did give in to temptation and drive to the thrift store this morning to check there 75% off all clothing sale. Three men's shirts came home with me, all of them such neat prints I'm hesitant to cut into them. But those butery yellow plaids are going to make fantastic stars and I'm sure I've got enough blue to go with them. If not, I've got an excuse to buy more shirts.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I think my iron is sick. I plugged it in this afternoon and it didn't get very hot. Why couldn't I have found out before I made the trip to Walmart for cold medicine this afternoon? Now I've got to drag four kids out again sooner than I'd planned, or try to convince Bill to pick up a new one for me.

The poor thing is close to twenty years old and even though it spent most of that life gathering dust in the backs of closets, it's also been dropped quite a few times. I'm pretty sure I got my money's worth, but I want the thing to work TONIGHT!

Maybe it heard me tell Janet that I was thinking of buying a new one and it's getting even.

Yesterday wasn't much fun, but I did manage to stop at Joann's to buy a few yards of nice muslin for a new quilt I'm dying to try. Mom gave me a big garbage bags of quilting scraps she wanted to be rid of and Grandma showed up at karate with two bags she'd just found at the thrift store.

They're perfect stuff to hack up for the Scrap User's System and I was sure I was going to have some time to play with them after the kids are in bed tonight.

I've even found the pattern I want to cut pieces for -- Scrappy Mountain Majesties. Maybe the iron will be just healthy enough to get me through a few hours of quilting tonight.

Or I could knit myself a pair of mittens. I think Give a Hoot might be even cuter than those cabled snowmen.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Friday, Bill drove me up to Woodland Woolworks to get a Japanese stitch book. I spent the whole trip up there giddily fantasizing about finally having it in my very own hands. They were out of the book I wanted. They were out of every Japanese stitch book they carry, so I couldn't even settle for a different one. So now I'm waiting for my first choice to be mailed to me, which will take a couple of weeks.

I could've called them to see if they had the book first, but I wanted to look at yarn. Bill was buying me Christmas goodies, and on top of that, I've got the money from the second digital camera to spend. I was all set to splurge and couldn't find a single skein that I wanted to take home, not even in the sale room.

I'm coming to the conclusion that I'm not an LYS shopper. Even if I go in with money in my hand, planning to buy yarn, I tend to leave empty-handed. So I'll stick with Knitpicks and Elann and the LYSs won't miss my business since I never shopped there much anyway.

I did pick up Knitting Lace Triangles by Evelyn Clark and rode home with the book open in my lap, planning to cast on for the Sand Dollar Shawl and deciding between two yarns already in my stash, and later I ordered a couple of other books I've been wanting from Amazon and put together an order form to replace the Denise cables I keep losing lately.

One of my first non-stash busting plans for 2009 is to make sure I've got enough thread and pins and darning needles and other important little things that I don't come to a screeching halt mid-project on the one morning I'm awake early and my kids aren't.

A friend came over to quilt with me this morning and while we were talking, I pieced blocks for my Sparkling Gems Quilt. I spent the first few days of the year finishing all of the corner units and cutting the 4 1/4" squares I still needed and now I've only got eight more blocks to piece -- I can handle that!

This thing is huge, and it'll be a bit huger once I get the pieced border done. I'm hoping that I can get the border done, since my sewing machine has been throwing fits all day. I've cleaned it. I've rethreaded it. The needle is new.

Guess the brat is just due for a tantrum.


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