Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A for Effort

Keeping true to my word to work on charity projects on each holiday, I managed to finish the jelly roll race quilt top (just the top, so far).

Luckily, there are eight days for Chanukah!  A migraine headache slowed me down, but I rallied just in time.

Below is what the first pass looks like, all smushed up after sewing all those strips together, short end to short end.

Here are the fabrics I chose for the Christmas Day project.  A couple of them are left over from the previous quilt top.

I saved this ad from a quilting magazine awhile back because I liked the design.  This seemed like the perfect time to make it.  I decided what size I wanted the finished blocks to be and drew them out on graph paper.

That helped me figure out what size to cut each piece.

I got a head start on cutting the fabric a day or two before the Big Day, and would have gotten more sewn yesterday except--guess what?!  I got another migraine.

Maybe these projects are causing me too much stress!  I detect a pattern here.  If I get another migraine on New Year's, I might have to rethink this.  I never have liked deadlines.

Anyway, it's up on the design wall, with just a few more seams to sew.  I might quilt this one myself, so I will make a backing for it at least.

A word about the fabrics:  these were all donated to the Guild for charity projects, and though they are pretty, many of them are poor quality.  Really thin, hard to work with because they want to stretch out of shape no matter how careful I was to cut along the grain and pin before sewing.  So...unless you are on a super tight budget, do not buy cheap fabric!!  It might cost you in migraines.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Not Forgotten

Back in August, I dropped off a few knitted and crocheted items to a local church that was collecting things to take to children who have been detained at the border.  I have promised myself not to get political on this blog, but taking children from their families?!?  It's insane and cruel.

Lately, I've been caught up in making my own projects, including challenge quilts for the Guild and Fibervision, but I haven't forgotten about making things to donate.

In the back of my mind I keep hearing whispers from the boxes full of fabric I've had for ages, from the Quilting Angels charity and our guild's Community Quilts.

The whispers get louder sometimes, and eventually can't be ignored.  And frankly, I need the storage boxes for my own ever-growing stash.  Let's get real, my motives are a good deal selfish.

So I decided, from now on until the charity fabric is gone, I am going to work on a charity quilt on every holiday.

Here's the top I did over the Veterans' Day weekend.  I've sent it on to the Quilting Angels, along with  a backing I made for it as well, and the last of the Angels' fabric, including scraps from quilts I've already made for them in the past.

I'd hoped to do something nicer with the Beatles fabric, but by the time I got around to it, I didn't have the patience anymore.

I did an ersatz version of the Jelly Roll Race quilt for the side panel, with 4.5" strips instead of 2.5."

At least it was fast!

On to the Community Quilts fabric:  I made this one over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Let's hear it for that panel in the middle.  I was not going to get fancy at this stage.  I plopped the panel onto some batting, made a quick backing, did stitch-and-flip borders right onto the whole sandwich, and then quilted a giant spiral.  I'll be turning this in at the next Guild meeting I attend.

Is it a bit garish?  Yes, but not as bad as the Beatles quilt!  I feel I owe an apology to Beatles fans, including myself, for that quilt top.

I'm planning a real Jelly Roll Race for the next charity quilt, and I've already made my own jelly roll from Community Quilts fabric.  I'm ready to roll!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Workshop Wonders

I've been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy making all manner of shawls, quilts, and wall-hangings.  I took a couple of quilt guild workshops, one from Sue Rasmussen on curved flying geese.  She's a great teacher, I love the sample I made, and I hope to make more of these.

I've made a few curved flying geese before using directions in the book Flying Colors by Gail Garber.  Slightly different techniques, and I love the book, but there's nothing like a live teacher, in person, who can give you great tips for saving time, accuracy in piecing, and so much more.

I also took a workshop from Irelle Beattie, using her Not So Twin Strips pattern.  She's taking a break from her Etsy shop at the moment, but at some point, you may be able to buy the pattern there at JibberishDesigns.  Here's the layout as I was playing with it a couple of weeks ago.  

Changes have been made, but I'm almost done sewing the top together.  Another super fun technique!

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Yes, I have made another Franken-object.  There was the Frankenhat, the Frankencowl, and the Frankenbear.  Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the latter, but if you click the above links you can read all about my Mad Scientist Knitting Experiments.

Just to give you some perspective, that chest the Frankentote is sitting on is three feet wide.

Here's how the Frankentote evolved.  A couple of years ago, I took a one-day class to learn how to make a sewing machine cover.  I was told I could modify the directions in order to make a larger one for my larger home machine.

Math ensued, sometimes correctly, sometimes not.  The instructor would try to help me from time to time, but she was busy with other students, and seemed to be having an "off" math day herself, perhaps.  There were many pieces, and there was foam to cut, and fabric, and ribbon, and so on.

The hours wore on.  The classroom was small and crowded.  Any time anyone needed to cut fabric or stabilizer/foam, one had to move one's sewing machine onto the floor, and pick up one's cutting mat and put it on the table, and then reverse the process in order to sew.

Couldn't you hear me cursing?  Don't you remember that day a couple of years ago when you suddenly seemed to hear someone cursing loudly right next to you, but you were alone?  You weren't schizophrenic--that was me!
By the end of the class, I had: nothing.  Basically a bunch of large flat pieces of foam and fabric.  Some of the foam was covered with fabric, some not.

These large flat pieces lay across bags and bins of other fabric in my closet for YEARS.  Sorry, didn't mean to shout.  They were in my way every time I wanted to dig something out of said bags and bins.  I was constantly moving them around, irritated every time.  Twice I pulled them out and said, "I am going to finish this," and I would read the directions again, because I had completely forgotten what I was doing.  I even retyped the directions with my math revisions hoping that would help me move forward.  I thought of making a tote out of it instead.  I couldn't decide.

It was too confusing, and I had too many other projects to distract me, and back the big, flat, annoying pieces would go, into the closet, forever in my way.

Then one evening, someone brought a Janome sewing machine cover to the Treasure Table at the guild.

She murmured something vague about how it might be a good item for one of our raffle baskets.

I said, "I need this," and shoved it in my bag and walked away.  I still marvel at my selfishness.  In my defense, she should never have brought it anywhere near the Treasure Table if she meant it to go in a raffle.

Now I had a sewing machine cover!  I didn't have to make one!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!

The decision was made:  the giant flat annoying pieces would be a tote!  Out of the closet, onto the cutting table, combining the original pattern with a different pattern.  There were a few mistakes made, there was a bit of seam ripping, a bit of cursing (under my breath; I'm certain you didn't hear me), and behold:  IT'S ALIVE!!!!!

With pockets!  Let there be dancing in the streets!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Quilt Show Boutique

Here are "before" pictures of my display table in the boutique at the quilt show this past weekend.

When I got there to set up, I saw I had mistakenly reserved only half a table.  I had enough items for two tables!

Luckily, fellow guild members came to the rescue and reorganized some smaller displays so that I could have a full table, right by the entrance to the boutique, no less.

I am so grateful!

Everything looks a bit jumbled, but I rearranged and re-rearranged throughout both days, so sometimes it actually looked appealing.

I was too rushed to take an "after" picture, but I did sell quite a few items and I'm pleased.

I also did some shopping, yet I am happy to report that I actually made more money than I spent!  It's a first!!!

I got the lovely purple and gold fabric from the Patti Cakes Quilt Shop booth, and the thread set, plus an extra spool, a major (but discounted!) purchase from Private Source Quilting.

Not shown?  Ten yards of white on white fabric for 3.95 a yard, also from Private Source.  That fabric is on a bolt and it has already been absorbed into the stash in my closet.  Yes, as a quilter, I have graduated slowly from buying fat quarters to half-yard cuts to entire bolts of fabric.  But look at all the money I saved!  (Fabric, for those of you who don't know, usually costs around three times as much per yard.)

As I write this, I'm getting the feeling I'm more excited by what I bought than what I sold.  This can't be good!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

New Pattern: Light in the Window Infinity Scarf

I wanted to design something lightweight, quick to crochet, and relatively simple for fall.  Behold the "Light in the Window Infinity Scarf" (or cowl).

I used Extravagance yarn from Hearthside Fibers--you know I never get tired of that yarn!

The colorway is "Spice"--and I know my friend Elisa will tease me endlessly because it's orange.

For those of you who have not read every single one of my blog entries, you may not know that I used to not particularly like orange.  I could go for the occasional burnt sienna, but a bright, fruity orange was not happening in my stash.

How times have changed.  It's just so great for complementing other colors!

Besides, "Spice" is very spicy-looking, sort of a mix of paprika and cayenne, with a dash of turmeric.

I know each of these pictures has a different shade due to the lighting and background when I took the pics, but the deeper spice is the truer color, at least on my computer screen.

I now hoard every scrap of orange-related fabric I can find, and I've been knitting and crocheting with various oranges, and the only bad thing about that is, once you use it, it's gone!  I cannot have my orange and eat it too, alas.

Anyhow, to buy the "Light in the Window" pattern on Etsy, click here.
To buy it on Ravelry, click here.

Happy crocheting!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gourmet Delights

I made myself some lunch the other day, and as I looked down at my plate, I started to laugh.  I was thinking of some of my friends who post beautiful photos of delicious foods when they go out to eat.  I start drooling just looking at those gourmet delights.

And then there's mine.  Notice the artfully arranged "crudité" and the fashionable paper plate.  Just gives me a little laugh every time I think about it.

Obviously, it's better if I stick to posting fiber art!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Update on Holder's Clay

I decided to put the first chapter of my novel up on this blog, so you can read it for free by clicking here.  Or just click the tab at the top of the blog that says "Holder's Clay, First Chapter Free!"

I hope you find it entertaining.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Starflower Scarf

I've been playing with my Starflower crochet pattern (which you can buy if you click here.)  The pattern is for the block only;  you can make a blanket, a stole, a scarf, or whatever you like with the blocks.

I was going to make a throw, but didn't have enough of all the colors, and I realized one block with sport weight yarn was 6" wide, perfect for a scarf.

I crocheted ten blocks together, did a nice little reverse single crochet (a.k.a. crab stitch) border, and this is the result.  A nice light scarf for fall, which can't get here soon enough, imo!  Have I mentioned how hot it is here?  This is not normal!  I'm afraid it's the new normal, though.

Soon we won't need scarves at all, or shawls, or blankets, and then what to do with our yarn stashes???  Just kidding, I'll keep knitting and crocheting regardless.

P.S. I just want to mention that Blogger has quit forwarding comments to my email, so if you have commented anywhere on my blog, and I haven't responded to you, it's because I haven't seen your comment yet.  But I will find it!  Eventually.  I hope.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Here Comes the Sun

The challenge for our quilt guild this year was Musical Memories.  We were to interpret the title of one of our favorite songs from high school in a small wallhanging.

I guess you can tell when I was in high school!  I used a couple of different "official" Beatles fabrics, a batik fat quarter, and some other odds and ends from my stash.  I only had to go shopping for the binding fabric.  I tried to use something else from the stash, really I did!  But I just couldn't get the checkerboard binding out of my head.

I learned how to do the perspective piecing--something I had wanted to learn for a long time--from a magazine article in the November 2011 issue of American Quilter called "The Altered Checkerboard" by Lorraine Torrence.

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  It's hanging now in my bedroom, to greet me every morning when I wake up.  Let's not say I'm a grumpy, cantankerous, anxious, negative Nellie every morning.  Let's just say I'm not a morning person.  So I hope my wallhanging reminds me to cheer up!

To see the other quilts made for this challenge, click here.  (The link will take you to Flickr.)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Pink Butterfly Finished

Here is my second Butterfly/Papillon shawl, all blocked and ready to wear--if it ever cools off again!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

New Novel: Holder's Clay

Actually, Holder's Clay is not a new novel.  It's newish, in that I just uploaded it as a PDF to my Etsy shop.

A long time ago in a land far, far away, I had such a vivid and inspiring dream that, when I woke up, I felt compelled to write the whole thing down, almost without stopping to breathe.

Well, okay, I breathed regularly, and I probably had several cups of coffee.  And maybe breakfast, at some point.

But I was very focused.  Really.

That dream became the first chapter of a novella, Holder's Clay.  I guess it took maybe a few months to write.  I've since expanded it into a novel, and I plan to write about that evolution on my new blog,

Holder's Clay could be called "speculative fiction" or "visionary fiction," since it doesn't really fit in the science fiction/fantasy category, although it does take place in a future world.  Fair warning:  there isn't any knitting or crocheting in it.

The first chapter is available free;  you can read it on the new blog--click here.  If you like it, you can spring for the book (at the low, low price to you of $3.95) by clicking here.  (The complete novel is available as a PDF download only.)

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

New Pattern: Easy Eyelet Cowl

I had some of Koryn's handspun yarn leftover from the cowl I knitted a few weeks ago, so I designed another simple cowl in order to use up the yarn.

I am really going shopping in my stash these days.

This was so easy and fun to make, I decided to do another with some superbulky yarn which I handspun (the lighter blue one.)

This yarn has been hanging around, in a basket full of things I've handspun, for something like six years.  It is one of the first things I spun.

It was interesting to knit with it.  How's that for faint praise?  It is a novelty yarn, in that it is thicker in some places than others.  Which was not necessarily my intention, obviously!  I spin much more consistently these days.  But I still like how it turned out.  It has bits of silk roving, alpaca, and angelica (shiny!) mixed in with the wool.

Anyway, this gave me two cowl patterns in one.

Finished sizes:
Aran Weight: 6”W x 27” circumference
Superbulky:  5.5”W x 40” circumference

Skill level:  Easy Intermediate (or Advanced Beginner, if you prefer!)

If you're fairly new to knitting but are already comfy with knitting and purling, and are ready to add a smidgen of a new technique or two, this pattern is perfect.

To purchase the PDF on Ravelry, click here.
To purchase the PDF on Etsy, click here.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

New Pattern: Vintage Trellis and Fan Scarf

This scarf reminds me of “Little Women” or Jane Austen; it’s a modern twist on a vintage look.
And I mean “twist” literally, as the diamond garter pattern in the main portion of the scarf is formed with twist stitches, directions for which are given in the pattern.
This scarf is long and wide and cozy, even though DK weight yarn is used.  That's 7.5" x 84" of warm, luxurious, cuddly scarfness.  (Scarfability?  No, that's sounds like something you'd chow down on.  Never mind.)

It’s knit in two pieces so that the lace and fan edges are pointing the same way. You then use 3-needle bind-off (the easiest) or Kitchener/grafting to join the two pieces.

I used 6 skeins of Colinette Cadenza yarn in the colorway “Apricot Smoothie” for the scarf pictured, because that’s what I had in my stash.

Although this yarn has been discontinued, a perfect substitute would be Hearthside Fibers Extravagance. The bouncy, soft, cushy natures of these two yarns are quite similar, and Extravagance comes in some gorgeous colors. (You’ll need 3 skeins of Extravagance, but you should have a little left over.)
Click here to buy the pattern on Etsy.  Click here to buy the pattern on Ravelry.  Click here to go directly to the Hearthside Fibers "Extravagance" page--be sure to scroll down to see the pretty colors.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


I'm almost done with the second Butterfly/Papillon shawl.  It's still on the needles in this pic.  Almost ready to spread its wings!

Tonight, fingers crossed, I will finish knitting the last section and bind off.

Actually, it's easier to knit with fingers uncrossed.  (I just cannot resist a bad pun.)

Friday, June 8, 2018

Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour 2018, Part 2

Luckily, Roxanne's shop is close by, so I can go back and get more of the beautiful blenders I saw.

I only grabbed half a yard of this black on white print and some thread to finish up the tour last weekend, because even I was running out of steam for shopping.

At Superbuzzy, I found this wonderful jelly roll, and I think I have the perfect pattern for it.  More will be revealed.

I turned in my passport and kept checking my cellphone to see if I won any raffle baskets or the grand prize or anything, but alas, it was not to be.  Never mind, it's great fun just the same.

Must sew faster to make room for more fabric!  Already looking forward to the tour next year!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Central Coast Quilt Shop Tour 2018

Well, we did it!  Or most of it, yesterday.  I missed the Quilt Shop Tour last year, and was really happy to be back on the Fabric Trail again.  (Like the Oregon Trail, or the Chisholm Trail, but with an SUV instead of a covered wagon, and no cattle.)

First stop, Old Town Quilt Shop in Orcutt.  We really love it when shops give little gifts just for coming in--not everyone wins a raffle basket, after all.  So we got some little treasures like a notebook and a refrigerator magnet, and after we shopped, we got to play their Plinko game and win cute little prizes, in my case, a mini-charm pack of batiks.  Hooray!

Next we went to The Quiltery in Paso Robles.  We were grateful it was only in the 80s and not the 100s temperature-wise!  (Good luck to those of you who are going tomorrow!  Stay hydrated!)

Found several fabrics to go with some others I have for a major English Paper Piecing (EPP) project I have in mind.  The orange batik is for something else.  I don't know what, but who cares?  We all got a cute little gift just for walking in the door:  a bit of fabric, a pattern for a tissue holder that I will never make, but who cares?, a ruler, and a piece of candy because we all need to keep our strength up for shopping!

Not on the tour, but just around the corner is Birch Fabrics.  Lots of modern stuff.  I have a half yard of the turquoise fabric already, so clearly, I only needed another half yard.  This, too, is for that major EPP project that's gestating.

The white and black fabric was just too weird and wonderful to pass up.  And we each got a free fat quarter with purchase!  Yippee!

At Quilter's Cupboard in Atascadero, I got hooked by their demo of this battery-operated seam ripper.  Just in case I ever need to rip out a seam again.  (Oh, no, surely that will never happen to me!)  And some pretty fabric.

Also in Atascadero, Sew Fun.  I already had half a yard of the fabric on the left, so I only needed half a yard more, right?  And then, of course other fabrics.  Cf.  EPP project.  Are we noticing a color theme here?

The Cotton Ball in Morro Bay gave us each a free spool of thread and some trail mix.  Found some more EPP-destined fabric.  I mean, here's the deal:  if you're fussy cutting, you need a lot more fabric.  This is not over-buying.  (Actually, yeah, it is, but again, who cares?  It's been a rough year.)

At Betty's in San Luis Obispo, I didn't find anything that grabbed me, for some odd reason.  Usually I have fallen in love with at least four fabrics there.  We are all sorry to see they are closing soon.

Last but not least, Picking Daisies.  I already have a jelly roll of the dotted gradient fabrics, all different colors, but I thought I might like some actual yardage of a couple of the colors.  These fabrics are super popular this year, though, so the shop didn't have many colors left.  The fabric on the right, though dot-less, still appeals.

Today was a day of rest.  And laundry.  And back exercises.  Tomorrow, only 2 more shops to go!