Friday, July 30, 2021

The County Fair is Back

Like many other things cancelled last year, the county fair is returning this year. Tomorrow morning I will be taking care of the canning entries and be turning in my own projects for judging and display.

You would think I would have lots more things to enter after two years, but this is not the case. I used my time for some other creative pursuits and I spent a lot of time recovering from surgeries, etc., which meant I wasn't doing much of anything. (Watching videos of other people making stuff doesn't give me anything to show for it! :)

When I started to think about what to enter this year, I remembered that I would still need to make a quilt block for the raffle quilt. That meant I would need to find the fabric kit that must be used. Long story short, I searched high and low (twice) and can't find it. I've decided to believe that I didn't buy a kit. (Never mind that I bookmarked a post on Instagram just a few months after the fair and tagged it "Fair block ideas".) They didn't have any more kits available so there was nothing to be done about it.

So what did I find to enter?


1. Cardigan, coat, pullover or sweater – adult
The Telja sweater. I finished it in 2018 and could have entered it in the last fair, but I had another sweater (this striped blouse with collar) to enter and you're only allowed one.

It's been worn but when I pulled it out of the hope chest it looked like I had cleaned and blocked it before putting it away. I pulled off some fuzz balls and called it good.

2. Vest or shell – adult
The Boxy T. This was finished in September, 2019, just after the last fair. This also had some evidence of wear and I had to re-work in some ends on the twisted edging. (There are four strands to bury and nothing to put them in!)
3. Socks
These socks were made in 2016. They were supposed to have a pattern woven on the side as you knit. I took them on a trip without the pattern and knit too far. Not wanting to rip it back, I figured I'd add some embroidery later. Now, five years later, I worked in the ends on the second sock and pulled out the experiment embroidery I had started at some point.

I didn't have time for a full blocking so I put them on the sock blockers, made them damp by spraying them with water, and hung them under a ceiling fan.

4. Any other knitted article not listed
The True Hope Cowl. I knit this in 2018. I hope the judge appreciates that it's double knit, which means it looks like the "good" side on both sides with the colors in reverse.

Sidenote: I have to admit looking at these pictures is making me a little nostalgic for this hair!


5. Cardigan, coat, pullover or sweater – adult
The Summer Dreams top, made last year. This might be my first crochet entry. I don't know if they're going to consider this a "pullover" but it has long sleeves and does pull over your head, so I didn't know where else it would fit. I provided a hanger for hanging so they could see a little better how it would fit.

6. Full, Queen, King size – machine quilted: Pieced
The Nocturne Star quilt! Just finished today and ready for its debut! I put a note on it that it was quilted on a home machine (not a long arm) because I have heard them make that mistake on my quilts in the past. Credit where credit's due.
7. Twin size: Pieced
The Plaidish quilt. Finished last year and I almost forgot about it!

8. Wall hanging (180 inch perimeter and smaller): Pieced
"Prayer Flags" I took this from where it was hanging at church, leaving a naked rod. I hope no one thinks it was stolen. :)

9. Mini quilts (96 inch perimeter and smaller)
The Yellow Star on Blue wall hanging. This one is only 18" square. I submitted the sister wall hanging (Crossed Canoes on a Starry Night) in 2010 and it won a blue ribbon. Fingers crossed!

10. Any other quilted article not listed
The mug rug I made for Troy's desk. It was pretty dirty but a hand wash and a soak in Oxyclean has it looking bright and fresh again. I hit the binding with an iron and it's all set.

11. Color: abstract
This is a picture I captured last summer of Lake Superior waves breaking on some rocks. I wasn't sure what class to put it in--seascape? still life? I went with abstract just because it's cropped close enough that it's a little hard to see what you're looking at at first.
12. Black & White: head or figure

Self-Portrait. Is it weird that I keep submitting pictures of myself? I don't know. I don't have anyone else to take pictures of so self-portraits it is. (I convince myself it's ok because of the long tradition of artists painting self-portraits. I'm guessing they had the same problem I do!)

There you have it. All the fair hopefuls I'll be turning in. I'll let you know the results as soon as I have a chance.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Finally Quilting!

There are a lot of things I could update here, but let's take on the biggest project making the most progress: my Nocturne Star quilt:
I started the blocks in May, 2016 and had them finished by July. I assembled them into the star and added the border in November and December. I pieced the backing and basted the quilt in June, 2020.

I couldn't start quilting until I had something that would hold the cones of thread I bought for this quilt. I sent a link to Troy for one as a suggestion for my birthday, and he, like any self-respecting maker would do, decided he could make one far better than what was offered for sale.

By February, his creation was ready to use:

It's very pretty and has a very solid (read: heavy) base.
It's working great.

So I could being to quilt. I started by thinking about the center star. It works better to start quilting in the middle of the quilt and it's also the hardest to do so it's nice to get it done first. The first part of the design I settled on was doing ribbon candy inside a diamond frame down the middle of each arm of the star.
I auditioned designs (and practiced the motion of making them) on a piece of glass and a dry erase marker. Then I tried some options to fill in the outside.
And settled on the wave like lines (upper design in the picture below).
Having that settled, I started stitching. In preparation, I had ordered a new foot for my machine that is designed to ride along the edge of a special ruler. (They're both sized so you can't slip and slam your needle into the ruler. Don't try to use just any ruler you have.)
In some ways, it's a little rough. I'm a beginner and the ruler is shorter than the distance to be travelled, so I have to keep moving it while maintaining the straight line. And the stitching is 1/4" from the edge of the ruler so that takes some learning. In some ways, I found it very straight forward and had no qualms about doing my very first ruler work on this special quilt.
Progress was made.
They say consistency of texture is more important that having perfectly placed and symmetrical lines, and I am choosing to believe them. :)

I am very happy that the center lies perfectly flat:
For breaks from that quilting, I sometimes worked on the light squares.
I added borders 1/4" from the edge and filled in an area with various designs based on circles or half-circles.

In general I would have liked to have kept the density of the quilting mostly the same, but in fact the designs do vary quite a bit.
I tried various ways of marking the gaps, including just relying on the markings on the ruler, water soluble pen, and a hera marker. They've all got their pluses and minuses (and I could use more practice with all of them!)
When I couldn't take doing more of the light squares, I started on the outer dark diamond shapes (the "wheel" in the Carpenter Wheel pattern). I auditioned patterns and practiced them on glass again, and ended up with a feather variation.
Something I thought I would never quilt because I wasn't that crazy about feather quilting, and it is deemed "hard". And to be honest, my earlier efforts where pretty bad! I think "modern" feathers are more forgiving and I've learned to go a lot slower and to look ahead. It's helped.
I recently gave a push and finished all of that quilting.

The center area of the light squares was left to do. I was dithering about what to do there. I wanted simple and something fairly dense to make the gaps between the borders pop. I wanted it consistently dense so nothing pictorial. I had settled on traditional crosshatching when a video about the spiraling square came up on my feed.
I decided that was it. It's back to ruler work after a lot of free-motion quilting but this is a little easier since the ruler can span the length of each line.

I've finished it on four of the twelve small squares. I'm not sure I'm going to do the same thing in the larger squares but I have a little time to think about it.

If by some heroic effort and the miracle of nothing going wrong, I have this done in two weeks, I'll be able to enter it in the county fair. If that doesn't happen, my next deadline is mid-August when I'll be traveling to see family. The quilt is destined for my sister and she has been waiting a long time (like since 2016--she had no idea it would be this long!) and I'd like to finally deliver.

May I suggest?

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