Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Project Spectrum: August into September

Have you been mindful of pink this month? I have to say I have not seen a lot of it except for the hibiscus bushes in my yard. And that's a big "except" because they have been blooming like crazy all month long.

I give you my pink collage in which the hibiscus figure prominently:
The other flower (lower right) are my poppies which finally decided to bloom. They are darling. And the top right picture is one of the bibs I made for my great-niece, my only pink or purple project this month. (I was busy with that tablecloth, remember?) It's 100% cotton and knit in the "snakes and ladders" pattern I made up for the 2009 Red Purl afghan with crochet ties.

But my favourite "pink thing" this month would have to be my great-niece herself:
Ella was literally born blue, so we are all so happy to see her pink and rosy now!

As the calendar turns to September, Project Spectrum moves on to yellow and metallics. Those are not colours I wear often, but I found plenty of pics in the archives:
Top row: bracelet knit with stainless steel wire; a block from my Kentucky quilt top; bee on sunflower;
Middle row: Knit stellated dodecahedron Christmas star; gold "boot socks";
Bottom row: Detail of last year's Christmas card; early crocus; sewing my Kaffe Fasset quilt; a binfull of popcorn Troy grew.

Here's to a month of yellows, golds, bronzes, coppers, etc. Let's see what we can see...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

See a Penny, Pick it Up...

Things have been such a rush since I got home, I have forgotten to share the "70" gift that my sister made for my mom. Since it was such a cute and creative idea and made a lovely hand-made gift, I wanted to share it with you.

You will recall that we set the theme of "70" for my mom's birthday and left it wide open from there. My sister, with her daughter, made this book:
They filled it with sayings and adages having to do with pennies.
Do you think money grows on trees?
My niece drew pictures to illustrate.
To be a penny pincher
Ok, so this is a cute idea already. But they made sure to use exactly 70 pennies in the book.
A penny for your thoughts?
And not only that, they found one from each year from the year Mom was born until this year, and used them in order. So clever!

It costs a pretty penny
This one has neat story. This silver coin on top of the page is not a nickel; it is a penny. A stainless steel penny that the US had to make during WWII because they didn't have enough copper for pennies. Pennies from that year are rare enough that my sister had to go to a coin dealer and pay 50 cents for it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Surprise! (It's no longer a secret...)

I can finally unveil the secret project I've been working on since the spring...

It was a crochet lace tablecloth for my mother. She turns...well...a certain age today and we got together to celebrate.

Ok, well, I tried to be polite, but I really have to tell you her age because it became the theme of our presents. My sister, Patricia, had the idea that we should all give Mom something that would somehow reflect the idea of "70." However you wanted to interpret that. It's not like Mom is in need of anything specific, and we knew she would enjoy seeing what each of us did with the theme.

Patricia herself made a wonderful photo book listing 70 things that Mom loves. Books, travel, grandparents day, balls, organizing things, etc, etc.

Anyway, you get the idea. The idea I finally settled on was to give a lace tablecloth made up of 70 motifs. Although she doesn't make anything of this sort, Mom has always enjoyed dressing her tables and appreciates the work of others. I searched for a pattern and found one I liked on Ravelry. It is a vintage pattern from at least the '30s.

After starting, I realized that there was no way I could finish it in time. Each motif was taking me two hours and I had to do one a day plus the connecting motifs. That was not going to happen!! With a little figuring I worked out that I could make it 5x8 (40) and count the connecting motifs (28). That would make 68 parts to the tablecloth.
If I added a doily to hang in a window:
and a loose doily that would look lovely on a round mirrored tray/stand she has,
that makes 70! Hurray!

You may have already read some of my adventures with this project. Now that it's done (and won a blue ribbon at the county fair!), I have forgotten all about those troubles. Ok, except my disappointment with the yarn itself. I had a hard time finding the right stuff and settled for something readily available from Joann's. I used three (1000-yard!) cones and no two of them were the same. It severely affected my gauge and the look of the units. The cones are wrapped in plastic when you buy them and there's nothing like a dye lot, so I had no idea how I was supposed to tell which was a good one and which a bad one. It was frustrating.
But I blocked the tablecloth with some pins on my ironing board and steam from the iron and it has pretty much evened out.

It was a big project to finish in a busy summer, but I had time for much of it during our vacation week. Troy didn't make me drive too much and I kept at it pretty steady. (I was prepared to submit it to the fair one row short and to finish it afterward, but I had it all done thanks to that vacation.)

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Project Stats
: 29 May '11
Finished: 28 Jul '11
Pattern: Star Wheel by the Spool Cotton Company (free)
Materials: Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet (Size 10), 3 cones ($14.40)
Oh, yes, I was going to share one more thing. I really debated when this all started whether it was worth keeping it a secret on my blog. Mom's only access to the internet was my sister, Bonnie, who was living with her at the time, but who then moved into her new house. I thought, "Mom never reads the blog; I don't need to worry about it." I really thought about it when I was showing the fair results. But I played it safe and blocked out the item (although Patricia, who knew what the secret project was, thought it was pretty obvious anyway).

And what do you know! My mom calls Monday night of the fair and tells me how her sister showed her not only the fair results post, but also the previous post that laid out every single item I was entering. They were traveling together and had time to look through the posts. I don't think Mom even thought about the "secret item" (she certainly didn't mention it), but I'm glad I went ahead and blocked it.

And sorry, Maria, the secret project was not for your new Ella-baby. I hope you weren't counting on it! (So much intrigue over a little thing. But what's life without a little intrigue?) Ella will be getting this trio of bibs:
Can you make out the monkey on the white one?
A project so super secret I didn't even mention it! How's that for intrigue?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More Ts, Please

I started on two more T blocks a few weeks ago using the jungle leaf fabric I bought in Missouri. I had to put them away during Fair week and for my sister's visit, but I pulled them out this morning and had them done in no time.

I think the fabric is not ideal for this block, but oh well; I like it and certainly am not replacing it with something else.

When I had those two blocks on the "design wall" (otherwise known as a curtain) I could see that I only had six more to do to get the 20 I need.

I had a few fabrics already cut and decided it was time to get it all done--make my final choices and be done with it. This meant I also had to decide which fabric to use for the alternating blocks. After looking at everything I had bought for this quilt and measuring what I had, I thought I was going to have to buy a whole new fabric. The fabric I had planned on using now looks too girly. I no longer liked it for this quilt.

But then I found a fabric I really liked but only had one yard of. I need three. It occurred to me that I could possibly buy more. A longer-than-I-wished search on the internet found me one supplier that stilled carried it. (It was copyrighted 2008.) I went ahead and ordered the two yards while I could get it. (The price was too high for me to get the additional "one just-in-case yard" that I wanted.) Things are coming together in any case, and this quilt is starting to feel more settled. Very good.

Once I had my plans in place, I started cutting and cutting and cutting...
and making little piles of pieces for blocks.

One of the first things to do for this block is mark a bunch of squares with diagonal stitching lines. I got a new tool in Missouri for just this job:
Instead of marking a line corner to corner and then trying to sew a 1/4" on each side of it, you line up the ruler and draw on the actual sewing lines. It wasn't the exact tool I was looking for--I think the Fons and Porters one is a better design but it's very hard to find, and the one time it did see it I couldn't pay the price they wanted for it. This one was cheap and works almost as well.

After all the cutting was done, I sewed all the half square triangles. (That's what I was marking above.) Then I was done with sewing for a while. It didn't help that the next step was to mark the diagonal on 16x6 2-inch squares. What is 16x6? 96? Oh my goodness, I can't bear the thought of it!! It will be a bit of a chore to do all six blocks at once, but each step I finish, I'll never have to do again on this quilt. That is very appealing to me right now. I'm sure sometime I'll have the fortitude to face marking lines on 96 squares.

Once those are done and my fabric arrives, I'll be getting a 9.5" square ruler to size all the T blocks and cut out the alternate blocks. Then pull out the design wall (aka a flannel sheet hung over the curtain) and start playing with arrangements. Sounds like fun, don't it?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fair Results (2 of ?): A Showing of Quilts

Fair week is over! We cleaned up and handed back all the entries Sunday morning.

Now that I have a moment to do so, I can share some of the quilts on display.

Let me start with the raffle quilt. If you read the blog last year, you followed the saga of my "Spirit of America" quilt block. This year we saw all the blocks sewn together and quilted in the colours chosen by the raffle winner:
The sashing and borders definitely go with the quilt blocks, but I have to say I find it far too dark for my taste. Usually the winner has the quilt by December, and then has to lend it back to the Fair for display. (You can find my block on the second bottom row, third from the left. It won sixth--the ribbon winners (#1-6) are in the centre six places, ranked from top to bottom.)

This year's raffle quilt had far fewer entries, and for the first time they did not have 20 blocks on the quilt. They picked 12 blocks from the blocks of lighthouses of the Great Lakes:
Most of them were quite good, and it was interesting to read where the lighthouses were located and the stories that some of them included. The one that won second place (with the red rosette) is the same lighthouse I was going to do.

Here is a close up of the six place winners:
And then of the ones that don't make it into the quilt, they pick six for pillows:
I believe I already showed you these, as my square was made into pillow #5 (middle of the bottom row). As Isaac pointed out, my mariner's compass somehow placed higher than a square that actually had a lighthouse on it. (I don't know why, but I won't argue.)

In case you're all wondering (or if even one of you is wondering), my mother won the pillow with her highest bid. All of the pillows sold (which I don't think happens every year, but I'm not sure because I haven't always paid that close attention): the highest for almost $80 (!!!--I know!) and the lowest I think for $10. Mine was somewhere in between. All the money goes to support the Home Arts building at the fair.

I did not win the raffle for this year's quilt. :(

I did buy a kit for next year's raffle quilt. The theme is "Down on the Farm" and the fabrics include a good barn red and two "farm scene" prints. I think this is another theme that suits applique over piecing. I think I will have to give in and do a "scene" if I want to win a prize. We'll see if I think it's worth it or if I just go with a block that fits the theme, even if it doesn't fit what they want.

Following are some of the other quilts that were on display. First, we have the grand champion:
A very lovely log cabin arrangement. I really like the stars with their halos. I think I already commented that the quilting was just a very functional big loose meander. Looks like it was done on a long arm.

There were lots of other fun quilts, like this quartet of ladies:
with their hats forming a Snails Trail block in the middle.

This was the only quilt done with batiks that was hung:
It was quilted with different patterns in different sections but it didn't show up very well against the patterned fabric.

This was a an arrangement of half square triangles and solid squares:
Very nice scrap quilt, I think.

This one was very prominently displayed immediately after the raffle blocks:
Troy thought the colours looked like a gracefully faded Persian rug, but I was not such a fan of them. The colours look a little too "off" for me. Impressive quilt, nonetheless.

A scrappy star quilt:

And a version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar:
This book has become very popular in quilting circles. There was a pattern published in one of the major quilting magazines and everyone was doing it. This is the first alternate version I've seen done with the fabrics. I like it. (A quick google search, however, reveals that it is just another pattern, not an original idea. In any case, it is cute.)

A great version of a trip around the world quilt:
I just love the big white and grey X across the quilt. This one was hand quilted in diagonal lines in one direction (i.e. not cross hatch).

And then we had these two nearly identical quilts:
One with a blue ribbon and one with no ribbon. Doesn't that seem a little odd? The one on the right was much more heavily quilted, and there are slight variations of colour and borders between the two. Troy definitely liked the one on the right more. I wasn't sure.

I was there when one of these quilt makers came through the building. One of her kids was amazed there was another one "just like yours, Mom!" Apparently they do know each other and had planned to make the project together on a weekend quilt retreat they had.

Ah...weekend quilt retreats...trying not to be jealous...

There were more quilts there but many of them had to be folded over racks and were hard to get a good look at. And the photography/art area keeps getting more and more crowded--they may have to add more shelves and take away even more quilt display area. That would not be good!

Alright, I think that's all I've got on the fair this year. It was interesting to get more involved in the behind the scenes stuff; and fun enough I've signed myself up for the same duties next year!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2011 Fair Results: 1 of ?

I started this post and realized there is no way I'll be able to cover everything in one post unless it is very very long. So I've decided to cut to the chase and give you my personal results first. (It is my blog afterall!)

In the same order I listed them before, here are the results:

1. Knitted cardigan or coat: Making Waves Cardigan
Oh, yes! That's my little cardigan with the great big ribbon on it! Not only Grand Champion knitting, but also the Red Purl gift certificate!! My lucky day! (I have to be honest and say I'd like to hear how it beat out the tan sweater on the left that was made of someone's handspun. Spinning enough yarn for a whole sweater makes my head spin, but apparently not the judges. They seem to be very impressed with fine gauge knitting.--Remember when they couldn't believe it wasn't machine knitting that one year?)

2. Knitted pullover - adult: Truffle Tunic
This is how I found my Truffle displayed. It looked like a folded towel that no one had remembered to put away. I was very disappointed.

But then as I was sitting at the raffle table last night, I realized that I was working there and that put me in charge and that meant that I could rearrange things "if necessary." And it was necessary. (What got me started was that one of the tags was backwards. I had to go past the barrier to fix it. Once I was in, there was no stopping me.)

I really assumed the tunic was folded like that because they didn't like it, but I thought it deserved to at least have all that long-float colour work that I had worked so hard at on display.

So I unfolded the tunic and displayed it like so:
And what do you know?! There's a red ribbon attached. So they didn't disapprove, they just forgot! (Much better now, don't you think?)

3. Knitted vest or shell: Man's Crazy Vest of Many Colours
(Picture is above with #1.) Another blue ribbon for my vest. (I don't think I saw any others in the category, though.)

4. Any other knitted article: Belinda Shawl
That's it in the back center with the red ribbon on it. I put a note on the card to explain it was two sided and to ask them to note the vertical colour striping that I did. (That's the one where I had to make the variegated yarn pool just so to make the stripes.) Considering that it is being displayed with the purple side out, I'm not sure they got it.

Another indication may be that I think this pair of socks won first in the category:
They were knitted on a loom and are the simplest socks you can get. I think what I can learn from this is to start entering my socks because this is two years I've lost to a sock. A plain sock. I have some socks that will knock your socks off, if you know what I mean. So that's the plan for next year. We'll see how it works.

5. Secret Project and 6. Crocheted doily or table topper:
You didn't think I was really going to show you, did you? But there is a blue ribbon hanging off it!!

The doily did not get a ribbon. There were quite a number of items in the category and all of them quite a bit bigger than mine.

7. Queen Size Quilt -- machine quilted: Fibonacci Quilt.
They had a lot of quilts and couldn't hang them all, but I'm disappointed this one is all folded up. It really needs to be seen in the whole to be appreciated. But oh well. The third place is nice considering how strong quilting is here. (There are a lot of categories, however, so there may well have only been three entries in this one.)

Incidentally, here is the Grand Champion of quilting:
(The Grand Champion gets displayed on the bed which is ironic because if often means you can't see it as well.) The log cabin squares were small and there was a lot of piecing in the quilt, it's a very nice arrangement, but the quilting was a very big loose loopy all over meander. I wasn't very impressed with that. (Not to say mine was better--it was just straight lines. But mine wasn't Grand Champion, either.)

8. Quilting: Raffle Block: I'll cover the whole raffle quilt in another posting, except I will say that mine got made into one of the pillows:
It's #5 in the middle of the bottom shelf. You can bid to win this pillow! They have a secret silent auction where you just give your name, number and bid and at the end of the week, the highest bid gets the pillow. Last night there were no bids, so this could be a steal! I am willing to enter the bid, so let me know if you'd like to. (Obviously, if you like one of the other ones, I can enter a bid for those as well.) You have until Saturday morning to let me know.

9. Photography (colour): Head or Figure
No ribbon. I'll try to curb my ranting, but the little girl in the lower left won. As Troy put it, it looks like the picture that came in the frame which to my mind is a bit like saying your homemade cookies are almost as good as store-bought, or your hand knit sweater is almost as good as the ones at KMart. But I'll stop there.

The one on the shelf above it and to the right got second place (the guy in the field with the tractor behind him). It was an awesome picture, creative and look some time to pull together. But no, the little pouty girl in the ugly frame wins. Sigh.

10. Photography (colour): Landscape
No ribbon. (A lighthouse and an old barn won first and second. Lighthouses are almost as tough to beat as babies.)

11. Photography (colour): Still Life
Third place, which is quite something because there was a lot of entries. You can also see Grand Champion picture above it. It's a super close up of a flower.

12. Photography (colour): Animal
Second place. Also not too bad because there were a lot of entries there too. (I think I was beat out by a cat in a window, but it's a little hard to tell what's in the same category.)

13. Photography (colour): grouping.
No ribbon.

14. Pillow (sewn).
I forgot to tell you about this one when I wrote about the entries, but I brought in my paper pieced Canadian flag pillow. At first I thought it got nothing, but later I realized the red ribbon blended in with the pillow and I just missed it!

Ok, that's all! I haven't counted them up, but all-in-all not too shabby.

Don't forget to tell me if you want to bid on one of the pillows.

See you at the Fair--"Catch the Spirit!"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Travel Projects

I brought a few projects with me on a driving trip last week. Most importantly, I got my secret project completely done and it is currently at the fair.

I brought along the red triangle stole and it is getting very near the end. The knitting part anyway, which is good because it's at the point where it is just kind of going on and on and on....

Thankfully, I also threw in some Mini Mochi sock yarn I had bought way back when I went to the Yarn Gourmet for the Super Scarf knit-along in February, my pack of sock needles, and a pattern. It's a good thing because I would have run out of things to do!

It took a couple tries to get the right combination of needle size and number of stitches, but once that was set, two feet flew off the needles. When I had one done past the heel, I put it onto some scrap yarn and made a second one to match.

I had noticed on Ravelry that this yarn didn't stripe quite fast enough for the pattern on the leg to work right. I wanted to follow a couple other people's example of using a second colour.

I thought I might have to buy one skein of black to finish off the socks, but before I did I decided to do some stash diving. When I got to the bottom of one bag, I found this sweater that I had bought to ravel:
It's a Ralph Lauren Polo lambs wool sweater. Or it was. Yesterday I made short work of it and got over 400 grams of usable 2-ply lace (or fingering?) weight wool.
It doesn't feel especially nice by the strand, but the knit garment was so soft. Mmm. I only needed a sleeve for the socks, but I went ahead and did the whole thing so it would be done:
Aren't they pretty all wound up and labeled?

I thought I would need to double it to match the Mochi yarn, but one (2-ply) strand will do. Hurray for me. With the added yarn, my socks will also end up a little longer which is good. I had noticed others that used this yarn had socks that were a little short for my taste.

Tonight I'm sitting at the fair for three hours with nothing more to do but sell raffle tickets. I think there'll be some knitting time!

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...