Monday, January 25, 2016

Block 5: Pinwheels

Kim and I are still a little ahead of schedule on our blocks, but why keep you waiting to see the next one?

This week's block was a pinwheel, or I should say four of them. The pieces get pretty tiny with four pinwheels in a six-inch block!

I couldn't stitch this one by hand because part of the process included sewing some squares together and then cutting them in pieces. Machine sewing can stand up to that, but hand sewing can not!

I pulled the machine out to the living room and stitched it together in pretty short order.

I took special care in how I ironed the seams and arranged the intersections so that they pinwheel and lie flat:
I love doing that.

Here is the front:
Look at all those dots! Aren't they so cute. When I bought all that new fabric in Missouri earlier this month, I really wanted to use them on the pinwheel block and was a little sad that I had already prepared the pieces for this block. But then when I pulled them out, I was delighted with the choices. So no need to redo (or do two pinwheels, which was my other thought).

Here is the mock layout with all of the blocks so far:
And here is Kim's lovely block:
I really like her bright colours!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Little Class

I don't know if I mentioned that I went to Hollanders book binding supply and paper shop last time we drove through Ann Arbor. I can't think of how I found out about them, but I thought it was worth a stop to look around. I enjoyed the visit and picked up a few specialty papers.

I also asked about classes and, while they don't offer them right now, they made some suggestions, including the Morgan Conservatory, the largest arts center in the United States dedicated to every facet of papermaking, book arts and letterpress printing (that's according to their own website).

The Morgan had different classes every Saturday in January and February and they all looked tempting! I settled on a class to make a book with a piano hinge binding and a special concertina spine that opened up into a surprise! The Morgan is in Cleveland, which is a bit of a drive, but I decided it was worth it to try it once. (They have more classes running this summer....)

Display in the reception area. What is it? I'm not sure,
but it's made with paper so I love it.
And paper not...question mark?
It's located in a converted industrial building and looks it! The space is big (although crowded) and has all those old high windows that factories used to have so they didn't have to pay as much to light it. But it sure didn't help with heating. The place was cold enough everyone had to walk around with their winter coats on! But certain areas like the classroom and bathroom--thank goodness--were heated. (And every heated area had with big signs on the doors to keep them closed!)

I got there early so I could "settle in" and because I had to buy one of the items on the supply list. I didn't have a bone folder and after looking online and deciding I didn't have time to run into town to see if local places had any in stock, I took advantage of the fact that they sold them on site.

I chose a lovely hand carved folder that fits my hand nicely. It was made by someone local out of elk bone. I really love the feel of it. And now I feel like a professional paper folder! :)
You use the pointed end to score the paper where you want to fold it and use the smooth rounded edges to make the crease. Much better than your fingernail. He tried to sell me a teflon one because they clean up better (nothing sticks to teflon!) but I couldn't do it. The bone feels so smooth and silky. You gotta love your tools, right?

Here are some more views of the building and the things on display as I walked back to the classroom:

I was so tempted to play with these typesetting letters.
What is it about letters, words and paper?
Stuff hanging from the ceiling everywhere!
Here is the classroom. Slightly heated.
The woman standing was the instructor, Clare Murray Adams. She was really great. She's "really" a quilter (worked in quilts and displayed her work for about 30 years) but now spends more time in collage and mixed media projects. We got along fine. :)

We got started with the hinge pieces. Here I am testing the size and shape to make sure the dowel pin will fit by weaving it between the two pieces:
To the left of the gluestick, you can see the hinge pieces are now covered with dark paper and the dowel is back in to test the fit again.
I've also started to pick out papers for the covers and endpapers. There was a bit of a mixup in the instructions and none of the students were told to bring paper to use for this. We ended up using papers the instructor brought along to complement our supply. (Luckily.)

Jumping forward in the process a bit, here is the book with the covers covered, endpapers in, and hinge spine attached.
The concertina spine paper has been folded and inserted as well. When I remove the dowel pin, the spine is released and you can see what picture I chose to use:
I'm sure this picture came to mind in part because Bowie has just recently passed away, but it also is the perfect shape for what was needed--very wide and short.

Here's what the concertina spine looks like from the inside:
I still have to add the pages ("signatures").

I made a hole-punching template on my hinge template so that the holes on my signatures would line up with the holes on the spine piece. All of them were pre-punched before I sewed in the signatures.
The instructor showed us how to do a three-hole simplified sewing pattern, but I wanted more support since my spine paper was not very heavy. I punched five holes and sewed a running stitch down and then back up the page. doesn't look like I got a picture of that, but you can see the stitching on the back side in the bottom picture below.

Once the signatures were sewn in, the book was done!
The way I folded my spine, I had room for six signatures in the book. We were given nine pages to use but since I wasn't worried about having a lot of pages or space in the book, I just did one page per signature.
Six pieces of paper folded in half for the signature gives me 12 pages (24 sides) and I think that will be plenty.
So with the dowel in place, it mostly looks like an ordinary book, but when you pull it out, you reveal the concertina spine,
and the special surprise image!
I don't know if I'll take another class at the Morgan. It was a long drive and I had to stay in a hotel overnight. But I think the class was definitely worth the cost and time to do it. I really enjoyed it!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Block 4: Sunflower

I was on vacation for most of this week and since I got my maple leaf block done on Sunday, I went ahead and started next week's block when I had the time. Not having my machine, I pulled out my needle and thread and sewed it by hand.

There's not much to write about (which is good--no drama or too much excitement!) but I can show you the block before it is completely assembled so you can see the composite parts.
The corner pieces took the most work as I had to sewing four pieces around the centre square to make the square-in-a-square block.

When it was done, I had a pretty sunflower:
It's a little under 6.5"; pretty close but a couple of edges are a little uneven and short. I'll be trying to fix this up when I apply the sashing. (You know--later!)

Here are the blocks done so far in a mock layout:
I was pleasantly surprised by a Skype call from my sister this morning and she was done her sunflower block early too!! So far we are very much on the same schedule. Here is a picture of hers; she did it in the 12" size:
Very pretty!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Block 3: O Canada...I Mean, Maple Leaf Block

This week's block of the Farm Girl Vintage quilt was the maple leaf block. Kim and I both chose to make this one in the larger size. It's one of my favourite blocks.

Some of you will recognize it from my house. It's the block I did in tile as a focus in the kitchen:
And it's the same block I put on the front of my house in 6-foot style:
Well, of course I was going to make the large size of this block for my quilt!

We were driving on Sunday so I decided to try to hand stitch this block on the road. I pulled out the pattern and the bag of fabric cuts and put them on my "work table" (my lap).
It started with four half-square triangles made by sewing two squares together. I marked the diagonal of the light squares with a water-soluble pen and sewed just to the side of the line.
The left block (above) is sewn and and finger pressed. The bottom block is sewn and the other two are marked for sewing.

Here are the four blocks finished.
I've cut the excess fabric from the back and finger pressed the seam.

Except for one, the rest of the squares in the block were solid pieces of fabric. The block is assembled like a nine-patch. I sewed column 1 to column 2, leaving the thread connected between the blocks.
I did backstitch at the beginning and end of each block. But this way, the blocks were connected in the right position when I sewed the rows together.

Here the columns are sewn together and the top two rows are joined.
Just one more seam to go!

I managed to finish it before it got dark and here it is ironed and everything!
I measured it and it is even 12.5" square like it's supposed to be!

I got to join my mother-in-law at her quilt guild meeting the day after the drive. It was a nice time and the best part was show and tell. I love seeing people's projects. (How can you resist a quilt with Godzilla on it!! :) My mother-in-law pushed me to sign up for show and tell so I showed my one block and the book it came from. They said I had to come back now when the quilt was done because one block is just teasing!

Here are the blocks so far in a mock up assembly:
Kim also got her block done early and here it is in a selection of greens:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Block 2: Out to Pasture

Look who beat the deadline! (Such as there is a deadline.) My sister and I decided to make Sundays the "end of the week" for these blocks and I am way ahead of the curve on this one.

I got home from a meeting on Monday and had an hour before bedtime. I decided that rather than fold laundry or iron clothing for an hour, I would see how far I could get on the next block.

I didn't feel like hauling out the sewing machine (or sitting in a room that doesn't have a woodstove) so I pulled out a needle and thread and hand stitched the block. I haven't done a lot of hand stitching but after working on the repairs of my Kentucky quilt, I decided it was certainly do-able. So that's what I did.

(This was also a trial run for doing sewing while riding in a car and I think it might work!)

1.25 hours later, I had a finished block. (So yes, I was a little late for bed! What else is new.)

I filled my Out to Pasture block with frolicking sheepies, little doggies, and the cutest little piggies. And flowers, of course.

Here is a picture of the back showing the nicely pressed seams. (But naturally I think every pressed seam is nice!)
If we get in a little closer, I think you can see the stitching.
I had to do some trimming after finishing the centre nine-patch and after the border was applied to make it the right size, but nothing too drastic. I'm starting to think that careful monitoring and adjustment while I'm making the block is as important as absolutely perfect cutting and stitching. And for me, probably more important. I sew in the real world. There is no perfect!

Here are the first two blocks in an imaginary setting:

Kim's block:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

St Patrick's Day at Christmastime

The Christmas gifts have been given, so I can share this project with you now.

I had the good fortune to draw my sister Patricia's name. (Ok, so I wasn't actually there in person and Patricia's the one that organizes it so for all I know she made sure I had her name--I don't know. We're pretty lax about the "random" part of name drawing in my family. If you have a good idea for someone, you're going to magically draw their name that year. It works.)

Anyway, back to Patricia. She worked in Ireland for a time and loves all things Irish and especially celebrating St Patrick's Day. When I saw this mitten pattern from the very talented Spilly Jane, I immediately thought of shamrocks. I don't know what they're supposed to be, but does that really matter anyway? They're shamrocks to me.

I decided to make the fingerless version because by March, you should be able to pare down the warm woolies.

Those of you with good memories will recall that I dyed some wool green during the Olympics in February of 2014 for the Ravellenic Games.
I wouldn't tell you then, but this is the project I already had in mind!

I started the mitts quite a while ago (probably late winter or spring 2014 since that's when I dyed the yarn) but I got too smart with the pattern. Instead of doing colourwork, I decided I was going to double knit them. That way the fabric would be a double layer (warm) and there would be no floats of yarn on the inside to catch on rings and fingernails.

I started with the rib and knit it twice as long as I needed, then folded it over and used all those stitches (twice as many as I really needed) to set up the double knitting. Clever, right? Except I didn't realize just how much it would affect the gauge. Apparently double knitting is way looser than doing colourwork, so it didn't take me long to realize the mitts were way way too big.

I planned to figure out the new gauge and start again with fewer stitches, but never got to it. Finally this fall, figuring I really had the perfect reason to finish these for Patricia, I ripped them out and followed the pattern. Magic how that works out! :)

So I did a 1x1 rib to start. (Ok, the pattern calls for a twisted rib but I really don't like doing it, so I only do it when I really have to.) Then I added a Latvian braid.
I had never done one before but have always wanted to. Then I saw a Facebook post that my cousin just added one to mittens that she was making and I realized this was a great project to add it to. You may noticed that I made sure to change the braid direction so the two gloves are mirror images. I can't help it. By the way, this braid is stupid simple to do and you should add it to anything and everything that you can. It's just purling with two different colours of yarn with the floats in front. Search on youtube--you'll get it.

The pattern itself was fairly straight forward. You put in a strip of waste yarn where the thumbs will go later and knit a straight tube for the body of the mitten.
After that's done, you pick up the stitches off of the waste yarn and knit up the thumb. The flower/leaf pattern continues on the outside of the thumb but it's just green and white stripes on the inside (the part that touches the palm).
I finished with a sewn Kitchener bind off because it looks neat and basically because I still think it's magic the way it makes the stitches continue from the ribbing on the outside to the ribbing on the inside.

My sister seemed as pleased with them as I hoped she would be.
Project Stats
: 4 Mar '14
Finished: 18 Dec '15
Pattern: Heather's Mittens by SpillyJane
Materials: I didn't weigh them but it was a small amount of raveled yarn--70% wool, 20% angora, 10% nylon (Oh, Patricia, I didn't tell you, but this means they are hand wash only. Maybe you assumed that.)

May I suggest?

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