Wednesday, July 31, 2019

County Fair Results, 2019 Edition

I was working in the Home Arts building last night at the county fair. There's a lot going on this year...besides buying tickets for the raffle quilt ($1 each or 6 for $5), there is also voting for the People's Choice award, guessing how many buttons are in a jar, guessing how many corn kernals are in a jar, and finding a red and green bow in the displays. That's a lot of explaining to visitors!! (Don't worry; I don't hit them with all of it all at once! :)

As always, I went a little early so I could check out all the displays, take some pictures, and see how I did. Here are the results:

In Pullover/Cardigan, my vintage blouse place first!
Until I typed that, I thought it was second!! I still get confused by the red and blue ribbons. In Canada, red is first and blue is second. It's the opposite here and I'm telling you, I have the hardest time keeping it straight. Well, woo hoo! I saw one other entry in the category.

Next, my Blooming Brioche shawl placed first. (I didn't see any other shawls When I looked again, there was one other shawl.)
 My socks placed second:
 They were topped by these socks:
I see Laura's projects every year and she's very good. Always good to have some worthy competition! :)

Next is the pullover in the child category. My Wool-Aid sweater placed second:
 Again, beat out by Laura!
But it's never a shame to be beaten by the Grand Champion!

The final knitting project was my mini sock book marks, in the "miscellaneous" category. They placed first:
It's hard to tell what else is in this category so I have no idea what the competition was.

In quilts, my blue elephant quilt won second:
ETA: When I got the quilt back, the judges had noted that the piecing was very good but the quilting "needed work." I can't argue with that since I'm more of a "confident beginner" than expert at free motion quilting.

I had the fun of seeing two different people vote for my quilt for the people's choice award. The third person said she was voting for mine (of course she said "the blue and white elephant one" since she didn't know it was mine at the time) and then I saw her write down the wrong number! I wasn't sure at the time so I didn't say anything but when I checked later, I confirmed it. Oh well, there's a vote I won't get.

This is a new award for the fair. The winner will get a $20 gift certificate to a local quilt shop. That's a lot more value than any of the ribbon premiums!! I believe they said they'll count the votes on Friday so that they can post it on Saturday for everyone to see. (So if you want to give mine a vote, get to the fair before then!! :) ETA: I was notified that I did win the people's choice award! I'm so flattered and excited.

The raffle quilt block category was very competitive this year. For one thing, there were more blocks returned than any year I've been there, and they were good. So it is a great pleasure to not only be picked to be on the quilt, but to also be awarded sixth place!
This is the second time I've placed (in 10 years), and both times it was sixth. Apparently the judges had to get very picky this year, so I'm glad I got all of my points to match!

On to photographs...look at this!
Grand Champion for black and white photography! One year the clerk told me I was really close with my picture of some keys, but this time I got it! Wow.

My "seascape" picture was awarded third:
 It was also beat out by the Grand Champion:
(well, and the picture which placed second).

And finally, my collage placed third:
Mine is the one on the left. I've included the others in the picture so you can see what else was there. I think there was a fourth and maybe a fifth entry in this category too because just before I left on Saturday, I walked by the table where the judge was evaluating these and I thought there was a very good chance I wouldn't place at all.

Another fun year at the fair! I should be able to get a post with all of the quilt entries later this week so keep an eye out for that.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Going to the Fair (2019)

Time for the fair again! Each year I look at the current "fair book", consider the categories, and decide what items I've made over the last year fit. Here's what I came up with this year:

Knitted Cardigan/Pullover
I've finished two sweaters since the last fair. My Telja (made with Icelandic wool),
and the vintage Vogue flashback:
Since my recommendation of abolishing the "knitted blouse" category was acted upon, I can only enter one of these in the "cardigan or pullover" category. (Yes, I was responsible for combining the cardigan and pullover categories too. If you don't like it, you should have entered more projects. Besides, it made room for the shawl and sock categories that were missing.)

Even though my gut tells me that the Telja sweater would be traditional enough to be appreciated by the judge, I have decided to enter the striped blouse. It certainly required more time and a lot more fussy finishing work.

Knitted Shawl or Wrap
I had two shawls I thought merited entry: the Hasukai cowl,
and the Blooming Brioche shawl:
The Hasukai is hard to understand when it's not being worn and is essentially a lot of garter stitch. The triangle shape of the Blooming Brioche is easy to understand and the patterned brioche stitch demonstrates a lot more skill. So Blooming Brioche it is!

Knitted Socks
Apparently I have made only one pair of full socks this year! Hard to believe. These are my entrelac socks made from wool purchased in Iceland.
I added several pair of shortie socks to my "done" pile this summer, but I don't think shortie socks are going to cut it.

Knitted Pullover-Child
I started this sweater in February for Wool-Aid and just sewed on the buttons this week.
It may not seem to qualify as "child" since I knit for the larger end of Wool-Aid's needs, but I think it should still be acceptable. (And it is literally knit for a child, so...)

Any Other Knitted Item
For this category, I decided to throw a set of these bookmarks into the ring.
I have five left. They are so stinking cute so I hope they are well-received.

Full/Queen/King Quilt-Pieced
Since this quilt wasn't accepted to the International Quilt Market's Sapphire Celebration exhibit and I wasn't in town to put it in the Shipshewana Quilt Festibal this year, its debut will be at the county fair.
If history is any indication, the worse it does here, the better it will do elsewhere!! :)

Raffle Quilt Block
My entry for the theme "Grandma's Scrap Quilt".

And I usually put in some photography as well. In the black and white section, I have entered this capture of a dandelion:

In the full colour section, I debated between these shots:
I love this shot of my mom and her sister. Besides their smiling faces, the background is out of focus just the right amount for a portrait.
I cropped this shot from the garden in Akureyri (Iceland). It ended up not printing as well as I had hoped.
This is the sunset Troy and I saw on our last night in Reykjavik.

I ended up going with the sunset, entering it in the "seascape" category.

I don't usually enter anything in the "grouping" section. (I don't have a frame suitable for multiple pictures for one thing.) This year I tried a different approach and made the collage in Photoshop and had it printed all on one 8x10 shot.
They are from a morning I walked around after a rainfall.

Tomorrow (Saturday) I will be helping with the sign in process and of course organizing the canning category for the judges and recording results. As always I will try to overhear as much of the quilting judging as I can. (I never seem to catch the knitting judging; I think it's done later.)

If you'd like to come to the fair, it will be open Monday, July 29, through Saturday, August 3. Check out their website for specials and events. (Super Kickers Rodeo is on Monday night!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Entrelac Socks

While preparing another post, I realized I had never posted about these socks. Not even that I didn't post when they were finished, but I didn't post when there were started or any of the middle either.

These socks were the result of two things coming together: I decided I was going to use the sock yarn I had purchased in Iceland and a sock idea taken from a fellow Raveler.

User carolkimball regularly shows off her entrelac socks with replaceable soles in our "Unravelers" group and I decided to try it for myself. Entrelac results in knitting on the bias which results in stretchy fabric for a comfortably snug fit.

I found a pattern for an entrelac sock to get me started and would make the rest up from there. I started at the cuff and knit them top down. The yarn changed colours gradually,
and since the squares are built up in horizontal rows,
by the time you work your way around the sock, the colour has changed for the next row.
Which gives a really delightful effect that looks far more difficult than it is. (It also makes for some rather addictive knitting. Entrelac itself is bad enough since you do it in tiny chunks (one square at a time), but add changing colours and you don't have a chance of resisting "just one more"...)

Once the leg was done, I left the pattern completely and started my version of a replaceable sole. A picture of the parts might help:
When the leg was done, I cast off half the stitches, which would become the top of the heel. (In the picture above, the leg is on the right and the cast off can be seen to the left of the dark blue squares.) I then cast on the total number of gusset stitches at each end of the remaining live stitches. (This is the long flat side of the triangle wing parts.)

I worked back and forth on these stitches, decreasing the extra stitches I cast on as I would for any gusset until I had the original number of stitches again. Then I knit straight (this is the top of the foot) until it was time for the toe.

I debated whether the toe should be part of the main sock or part of the replaceable sole. I think most people would put it with the sole because the toes wear out quickly as well. But I've never had a toe wear out--I get most of my wear on the heel and balls of my feet. So I put it on the main sock. I did a short row toe so it flowed over the front of the foot to the back. (Seen on the left in the picture above.)
For the sole, I cast on half the total stitches for the leg (which is the same number as for the straight part of the top) and worked back and forth. I started with the heel flap. In this case I used a slip stitch variation. I did twice as many rows as the number of stitches cast on for each gusset and then did some short rows to turn the heel.

All that was left was to knit straight until the length reached from the heel to the start of the toe. In the picture above, the sole pieces look like flat rectangles, but there is a bump in there for the heel shape; you just can't really see it. (It's most apparent on the left sole--you can see some wrinkles where the red changes to purple.)

Once my pieces were blocked, I sewed them together. I decided on a whip stitch (also called an overcast stitch, I think). It's visible, but it's also very flat which is important for comfort.

Deciding to add the toe to the top of the sock instead of the sole meant the seam was on the bottom. I debated about this for a white because that doesn't sound like a good idea. But the seam really is flat enough I don't notice it.
I used a different sock yarn for the seaming. I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't felt in with the sock and become impossible to pull out. The main yarn was fuzzy and very feltable so I went with a smoother yarn. (It may not even be all wool.)
The colours were similar but it matches in some spots (below) better than others (above).
But that's hard to avoid pretty much no matter what you do when you're working with a yarn that changes colours!
The changing colours that make the entrelac so pretty also really emphasize the way the sock is constructed. It's hard to miss the fact that the sole and top of the sock were knit separately.
Project Stats
: 2 Apr '19
Finished: 15 May '19
Pattern: Started with buttercupia: Noro Entrelac Socks by Jamie Fritz
Materials: Hjertegarn Kunstgarn (colour 07)
Ravelry project page: Memento of Iceland - Entrelac socks

Now I only have to wear them long enough to wear out the sole and then I can let you know how easy or difficult it is to replace the sole with a newly knit one!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

County Fair Quilt Block: Grandma's Scrap Quilt

It's almost time for my local county fair again. As it approaches, I start to think about what I'm going to exhibit this year.

And the one project I do each year specifically and only for the fair is the quilt block for their raffle quilt. Each year they pick a theme and sell kits of fabric. The block is due the next year.

Last year the theme was "Grandma's Scrap Quilt". The kits have a square of background fabric and four smaller pieces of print fabric. All of the prints were 1930s repro designs.

None of the kits were the same. They had a lot of different prints in the same style and put a selection of four in each kit. While I was working the Home Arts table first night of the fair, I looked at all of them and picked the combo that I liked best.

I didn't want two prints of the same colour family and wanted to have some contrast (light and dark). Most of the prints registered as "medium" but I tried to find the best combo. You can see what I ended up with on the left.

Although I hadn't started any work on the block, I had been thinking about it. The first thing I think of when I hear Grandma's Scrap Quilt is a Grandma's Flower Garden -- flowers made of a ring of hexagons. I thought about doing one single flower or doing a mini version with more flowers on the square. (I've been influenced the 1/4" hexies and 1/2" Lucy Boston pieces I've seen online.)

But I couldn't seem to get fired up about it. I had a hard time picturing how I was going to use four colours in a flower with five petals. When I looked at the project with more purpose recently (being closer to the deadline), I thought of an eight pointed star. Turns out I had one already drafted in Word. I added the squares around the outside and once it was printed and cut, I got this:
The paper pieces should be a clue that I was going to do this with English paper piecing, and not traditional piecing. I decided where the colours should go, glued the fabric to the paper pieces
and got to stitching.
In a couple days, I had the center shape sewn together.
I was going to applique the shape onto the background fabric. But which way to orient it? Like above or below?
I went with option one. To center it on the background, I created creases at the half way mark in both directions.
And then lined up the points with the crease lines:
I pinned it in a couple places to hold it but put in pins from the back to hold it while I stitched. That way my thread wouldn't catch on the safety pins.
I stitchey-stitched all the way around with the ladder stitch.
Now you could call it done here:
with the background fabric behind the whole piece but it does make it thicker. And in this case, I had to pull out those papers still! So I cut out the background about 1/2" from the stitching.

Then I pulled out the papers. To remove them, I run something under the edge of the fabric to loosen the glue and then insert it into the hole to pop them out.
Here we go--all done:
At this point I soaked it in a bowl of sudsy water to wash out the glue. I swished it a bit, but didn't agitate too much. Then I had a job of pressing all the seams in place again. After trimming the background to a 1/4" seam (and cutting all the fraying threads), I had this:
The centre of an eight pointed star is the trouble spot. Two of the worst things that can happen is that the points don't meet there and that it is a big thick pile of seam allowances. To avoid a big bump of fabric, you spin the seams in the centre. My block doesn't look super crisp because the edges frayed from the glue and washing, but it is relatively flat. (As flat as it could be.)
I starched the block from the front and the back and it is looking super crisp.
The last thing I did was cut the background to size, centering the applique and remembering to cut at 12.5" (not 12" like last year). All in all, a relatively smooth process this year.

I think this is a super pretty block that falls exactly in the theme. I used only the fabrics they provided and didn't play tricks by using the backs of fabrics. If this one doesn't win, I will never think about winning again. I will continue to make blocks because it's fun, but will stop wondering if it will place.

May I suggest?

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