Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Family Crafting Retreat

I had the great pleasure of meeting a couple of my sisters, my mom, two cousins and an aunt for a crafting retreat this past weekend. This all came from my cousin posting her quilts on Facebook, our comments, and a chance remark about getting together to quilt (and craft). The snowball rolled from there.

And speaking of which, it snowed non-stop all weekend. I went out for a couple walks, but otherwise didn't have to be out, so I didn't mind at all. But it was surprising to look out the window for three days and have it snowing every single time. Thankfully someone else was taking care of snow removal.

The building where we were staying.
What did I work on over the weekend? Glad you asked because otherwise I wouldn't have much to talk about here.

First was the quilt I am currently calling Bright Stars on Black. I got it organized before I left and had already cut the parts I would need and pieced a lot of half square triangles (HST). I started by sorting them into sets of 8 for stars and sewing them into pairs.
Then I added the center black square:
Or I put two sets on the black square, anyway. My preparations neglected to include cutting the smaller black squares needed for the outside corners. So that was as far as I got with that. But that took quite a bit of time, so that's alright. Part of the time was spent pressing all those little seams.

Troy and I finished a new travel ironing board just in time for this trip. It has legs so it can be set up on a table, but I quickly realized it worked great sitting across my lap. I really can find a way to do anything while sitting on a couch.

Obviously I'm not pressing the HSTs in the picture, but the parts for the large stars all still needed to be pressed as well. It was a good chance to sit and talk.

I discovered a few of them hadn't had the outer corners trimmed, so I did that and immediately made some scrap blocks from the cut off triangle pairs. I didn't trim them to size or anything. I just ran them through the machine and matched up what I could.
These squares will finish less than 2" - piecing this small isn't crazy if you do it right away while the scraps are still fresh and the two triangle pieces are already matched up (as these were). Of course, I would be crazy to put these aside for using later. They are too tiny.

Although my aunt would say it's all crazy. (In fact she did say that on the weekend about someone else's quilt with small pieces. She was voted off the island.)

What will I do with these little squares? Who knows. For now they're in with the scraps (bigger scraps) and will get put into some slab block or scrappy project. Meanwhile, they're cute!

I did finish sewing and pressing all the large star pieces for this quilt and had been hoping to lay it out while I was there. But the building really didn't have any spaces large enough. I left it alone for a while, but it was nagging at me so I finally tried it on the kitchen table.

First I laid out all the star sets, organized by colour:
I figured out how many I had of each colour group and worked with some options on paper for what I could do with them. After I chose an arrangement, I picked out the best blocks for the layout.
Somehow I made twice as many star sets as I needed for one quilt, so there were plenty enough to choose from!

Then I laid out the pieces one row at a time and sewed them:
None of the rows are joined to each other yet, but I think you can get an idea of how it will look. I have to cut some black filler blocks for the edges too, and I didn't have the fabric with me. I was very happy to make this much progress.

In the time when I didn't think I had room to lay out the quilt, I did some playful sewing with scraps:
I got as far as I could with red scraps in making a slab block. It's not up to 10" yet but I can add more later. The squares on the right were cut offs from the quilt my sister was doing. She doesn't keep scraps that small. Again, these are not intended for anything yet, but things like this have a way of being perfect for something (one day).
Holding gifts that a few of us made for each other--
mug rugs, pin cushions, and matchbook needle cases.
A close up of the mug rug I chose.
We also worked on a puzzle - of a quilt of course.
Mom made it her first priority to get it done!
You can't really see it in the picture (right) but my sister is holding a blanket she is knitting. It's covered in cables and I showed her how she can do them without using the cable needle. (Essentially by permitting yourself to take the stitches off of the needles for a moment.) She sent me a note later that said it was one of the best things I ever taught her. :)

When I wanted something simpler I could do while sitting and talking, I pulled out this sweater.
I bought it at Goodwill to harvest the wonderful yarn. It will be perfect for a Wool-Aid project. The sweater was slightly felted so it was going to be a two person job to ravel it -- a perfect job for me and my mother.
One of us would pull the yarn from the sweater and the other would wind it into a ball.
By the end, I had four satisfying balls. (And we both had tired arms because we were trying to "keep up with" the other.)

A project I started over the weekend was a new shawl:
I got a little further than this but I have realized that I'm going to have to add the beads the pattern suggested. I thought yarn-overs would be enough, but they're not. So I have ordered beads and will have to start this over. I'll give more details about it in a later post, but if you're curious you can see the Ravelry project page by clicking here.

And finally, when I wanted to work on some hand sewing, I pulled out my Lucy Boston's Patchwork of the Crosses blocks. On the last night, I laid them all out - some sewn, some partially laid out, some partially sewn - and pulled out the new fabric I purchased on the drive there.
I had this block laid out except for the four feature pieces:
I found the brown fabric with orange flowers at the shop and added them. I sewed it together over the weekend.

I purchased some of this fabric:
and cut out and shaped this border from it:
Nothing is pieced, so I could still separate the sets of 8 matching pieces. We'll see.

Here's another border I cut out from a new fabric.
I'm not sure I'm going to keep it with the green center.

And finally, I tried out a different layout of pieces I had already prepared:
I like the spiral and sewed it together on Monday when I was home. I'll be playing with this some more.

What a fun weekend it was. There's talk of doing it again next year, so that would be great.

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