Thursday, February 28, 2008

4-Seasons Spring Quilt

You have seen the Spring quilt I made for myself in the many scrappy shades of green, lavendar and purple that I have (tea leaves). I prepared a bunch more of those tea leave flowers, in preparation for the 4-Seasons Spring swap quilt, but after doing so I am contemplating a different approach. I have selected a partner that is crafty, and whimsical. She is a talented quilter and very creative. (I know, I know...that describes most all of my readers!) So here's a sneak preview to what I am making.

I LOVE green. All shades of green, but especially the more lime shades which are perfect for spring. I also have an equal amount of purple & lavendar shades that will also be incorporated.
There will be some of these tea leaf flowers, but the quilt will most definitely NOT have these as it's focus, as my SPRING quilt does. It will be far more whimsical and imaginative...less traditional, but still very lovely (I can say that because it is quite far along in it's construction; I'm just not going to show a picture of it just yet...let the suspense build).
So what exactly is my inspiration for this mini-quilt???
I was given this metal Hallmark tree years ago. It's basically kind of ugly, and was intended to have these little mini-frames hung onto it - with family pictures in them. It's the "family tree". Despite it's ugly factor, I kinda like it, and it sits atop my bedroom dresser. My bedroon, incidentally, has about 20 black & white and sepia-tone old family photographs, dating back to the late 1800's. It fit's my decor. I saw it one day a week ago, and knew it was my quilt's inspiration. It has Spring written all over it. It has the whimsical swirls and nice shape. Now...if only I can appropriatly utilize this concept for a quilt!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This is MY spring

Another little quilt to adorn my hallway walls is complete (once the painting is finished...therein lies the problem!). The painting is at most 40-50% completed, and my motivation is waning.

This was my 2nd attempt at machine quilting. It's not the best, but it's not bad thus far. I love the colors. They are truly me. Spring definitely needs that bright chartreuse. My thoughts are still pondering about the "ball-like" flowers. They are a bit folksy for my taste (ie., not my favorite), but I did them like that to mimic the flowers in the outer border (zoom in for a better view).

For those of you lurking 4Seasons spring quilt is NOT this particular one. It may be quite similar, but a touch smaller, as this is 22-23".

Our spring is still looking to be light years away though, as we got another 6" of snow last night. This is an amazingly snowy winter. I don't think we have seen the ground since early December. It might be a mid-April spring :-(

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is this what you were expecting?

This is my 8" block (well actually it is 8.5" square) for the Spring Fling round robin that I am hosting. It took about 4-5 hours to do over the last couple days. Except for the blue & white fabrics (which I have been holding onto for years, awaiting just the right project), it is all hand sewn, appliqued, embroidered. I have done a lot of needle-turn applique lately, and enjoyed doing it. The Asian feel of the blue & white just drew me into doing a dragonfly instantly. The wings have a red rayon thread woven through them. The sheen of the rayon does not show on the camera, but it is pretty. There is also a little bit of metallic embroidery thread used. I have used that spotted batik on a number of different projects. It is a fabric that has a great punch with a small amount of material. I am tickled with how it turned out. I just hope that the final recipient and the other 2 that will add it's borders like it as much. I won't reveal which fabric is being sent along with it. I'll let the person who I send this to do that (the particular cloth is BOLD!). BTW...what fabric from these would you send as a fat eighth for the next person to incorporate into a border? Thoughts??

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Become Intrigued!

After a horrible last 2 days, I just needed to sew. I NEEDED TO!

My boys have been gone to my mother's since Sunday so that I could allegedly paint our upstairs hallway & stairway and in one of my son's bedroom. Now our hallway is no small space. It's got 7 doorframes to paint around, plus the stairwell is 16 feet tall. I went great guns on Sunday morning with paint I had leftover from when I painted the living room 3 years ago. Seemed a little odd that there was 2/3 of a can left in it, but not enough for me to think too seriously about it. Now as an aside...we have a few other rooms painted in shades of green - my bathroom is pale sage, the kitchen is a deep forest (which was originally a slightly different shade, but was changed when I didn't like it), and the living room is also sage. Therein lies the problem! Too many options at the paint shelves. I painted 2 of the 16 ft walls, hoping that the paint would just dry a little lighter and match where it ties into the living room. WHen it dried, it was about 20 shades darker. UGH! My want to give up was kicking in. I moved onto my son's bedroom. That was simpler and how could I mess up tan?

Later on, I went to Home Depot and got a can of the right color and tested it. It appeared to be good. Phew...After Sophie went to sleep I cut in around the trim. The next morning, in between taking her to the doctor and the ER, I rolled these walls. It all seemed kosher so far, looking much better than the mistake-dark green. After she went to bed, I worked a little more. In my attempt to get as much paint out of my roller as possible, I rolled over a few (shall I say 3 at least) walls in the living room that were looking a little dingy. Again, it seemed logical.

Upon waking this morning (just before I pulled out my hair and wanted to scream!), I noticed that the paint is a touch lighter. It's not enough to tell in the hallway, but in the living room, atop the existing sage paint, it looks all splotchy. Could be because I only bought a quart of new paint and not a gallon. Who knows. My day has also been taxing because of Sophie being very fussy. The med she is on (prednisolone) makes her dizzy, fussy and a little angry. I have to follow her around to make sure she doesnt bump into things.

Consequently, I have just lost my will to fix the mess. The hallway has a 16 ft ladder still up, dropclothes around, paint cans, etc. I have gotten about 90% of the stairwell done and 25% of the hall done. So what does one do in this predicament???

Start a new sewing project. That's right. Don't bother finishing the 16 I have started. A new one!

So if you are intrigued about where this is going, good. That was my goal. It is for the Spring Fling round robin. The block is NOT completed. A key design element is not yet on it. And incase you are wondering, it is not going to be a peacock!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

MY Spring Mini

The tea-leaf quiltlet is coming along. I practiced my machine quilting on a Project Linus quilt this week, which incidently did not turn out too great. It had this ultra-thick poly batting, which I personally hate to work with. If it had not been free, and that I have 5 yards of it, I'd have used something else. Anywho, what I did on this spring quilt looks considerably better. The practice did help. It's a more manageable size for my machine and the batting is a thin cotton. I think it is not perfect, but decent. It's done with a lime green thread, but I hung the quilt in a window, so it looks overly pearlescent in the pictures.

My appliqued border is not completed, but you can get the idea.

closer up view...
and for effect, a view in a window from the back side...

Now if only spring could actually come. Here's what my front yard looks like still (snow up to my nearly 6 year old's shoulders)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Busting the Scraps

I had a good afternoon of sewing on the many partially-completed quilt tops I have started. I finished two of them. I have this awful habit of sewing 80% of the top and then cutting out borders and putting everything into a bag to finish another day, month, year. You get the idea.

Sometime last summer I was going through a bag of the ugliest pieces of cloth I have seen. They were donated to me by somebody else trying to clean out their sewing room. I didn't have the heart to put them in the trash.

As I was pondering this afternoon, I came across Luisa's blog , which reminded me that I could probably make another 50 of these with what I have stashed away!

This is about 40" square and will definitely be a quilt donated to Project Linus after it is finished. Last year, in 2007, I made 28 of these donated quilts. This year so far, I have none actually finished, but at least 6 tops nearing the "sandwich" stage. There's another quilt top just like this one awaiting its borders too.

I hope to actually try my machine quilting on this. In the past I have not been too pleased with how it has looked, but I know that I can only benefit from the practice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Week of Good Progress & Goodies

I made good progress completing projects last week. Coupled with only spending 15 cents in a quilt shop, that's a good feat. Afterall, I needed just a couple inches of a particular color fabric. I have completed the top and bottom of my son's train quilt. I will post a picture soon. I have also made tremendous progress on my tea-leaf springy mini quilt. soon!

This gorgeous treat arrived today. I was awaiting it for a few weeks now - It's my 4-Seasons winter quilt. The pictures posted of it pale in comparison to the real thing. The machine quilting is amazing. Simply beautiful (as are the little goodies that Maria included with it).

On a different subject...
I have kicked of another internet quilt swap. No, it's not the spring instalment of the 4-Seasons. It is a Round Robin. If you are interested, please check it out! Signups are right now.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Another View

This is under natural light, perhaps showing the colors better ( & the snow!)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pictures of Progress

My first completed knitting project. Actually I have knitted all my life, here and there. I remember starting a couple of sweaters, but this was the first I remember actually finishing. And it fits her too! It's made with Bernat Cottontots yarn, size 2/3US needles. I plan to type up the pattern soon. I bought 3-3.5oz balls, and have 3oz left (measured with our kitchen scale!).

Here's the 12"x12" assembly of the tea blocks I showed a few days ago, upsidedown & sideways. The color is off a little, as it transgresses upwards to a nice light apple/kiwi color. I haven't decided if I will do one similar to this for the swap, but it is possible, and will certainly utilize many of these same fabrics. Many are leftover from this quilt I made last year, and have once again started hand quilting (again). What can I say, I love purples & greens, and especially when they are together.

I am looking for a tip on fabric markers. Does anybody have any experience? I want to make something that has children (6 year olds) using them so they need to be easy to use & robust. Looking for a tip on where to buy them and what kind. thanks

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I have been Missing

I know, I know. I have been missing. Not posting. Absent. sorry...

Truth is, life got a little hectic. I went back to work after having nearly a month off. That is my excuse anyways.

Reality is different. I have not had the attention span to sew for 6-8 weeks. I have had good intentions, but I haven't followed through. I spent as much time with my seam ripper than I did on the machine. I have so many projects started I can hardly decide which is least frusterating to finish. As I read recently (and laughed at it's appropriateness to me), "I have had the attention span of a gnat".

With that said, I have not been totally void of any accomplishments. I got a knitting book for Christmas. I promptly went out, bought some yarn and started knitting a sweater for my daughter (only her because the project is much smaller than if it was for me, who really needs a sweater). I quickly discovered I did not like knitting the pattern I was doing. The stitch was overly time consuming and not as attractive as I liked. Knitting is fun - it comes out way easier than rogue seams do! I resorted to the internet, looking for patterns. In the end, I discovered she had a sweater (different color) that actually had a similar gauge, so I copied this pattern. It is 99% completed - lacks the last 3 rows to complete the buttonhole placket. There will be a picture soon, promise.

Before this sweater got nearly finished, I vowed I wanted to learn to do fair isle knitting (cables will be next). So last weekend I got some colorful balls to make her another sweater, for next fall - a little larger. The back of the sweater is knitting up nicely. IT is about 6" now. UNfortunately it is smaller than the other and thus may not work next fall. UGHH... Do I start over?? the quandries... Further, the yarn is a rather slippery micrifiber. It has a lovely sheen, but doesn't grip the needles well. One of my needles fell out a few days ago, and as I fumpled to get stitches reloaded, several rows un raveled. Setbacks...

Back in December I did do more on my intricate star quilt. I made one mistake that needs taking out and it's been sitting at the end of the ironing board ever since. My son's twin quilt has had progress too (though like an inch worm progresses). I have added a 2" inner border around what is shown in that link that looks like train tracks. I have also pieced almost 90% of the back. It is, again 90% done. That last small % kills me! Part of me is hesitant to complete it because it will open another door of "Need to do's" - Namely, completing his new bedroom, painting, buying a bed, etc. He's something of a napping beast right now. I have not resolved to him in a normal bed where he can get up as he chooses.

I have pieced 90% of the tops of a couple scrappy Project Linus quilts. I have not been much in any mood to actually sandwich and complete them though. Right now, I think there are 6 tops ready to be finished. I have been a good girl, not buying fabric this past month except what was so desperately needed. Anything I am making except for the 2 big quilts is from stash.

My partner Luisa has received her 4-Seasons Quilt from me. She does like the color and design. The piecing is very precise. It is really prettier (I think) than the pictures show. Snow in Maine, I think, can often look shades of soft lavendar. I am glad she likes it. I wanted to send her something as an appreciation of the lovely one she sent me last fall.

Here's the inspiration fabric for a small project(s) I am starting... The camera/computer does not do it justice. It has happy sage-apple colors of green in the leaves. It's the epitomy of spring, and coordinates awesomely with the pattern I am doing...
And lastly, of course I have another project started (above). For me, the joy is in the starting, not the finishing. I am making a mini quilt that may end up being for the spring quilt swap or it may be made for me and a duplicate/similar one made for the swap. It is the Tea Leaf pattern that comes from this book. I have looked on the internet, and there are many interpretative designs called Tea Leaf. This is a very old, hand appliqued pattern. I can do them in front of the TV (ie out of the basement). I'm making it in shades of purple and green. This one I love thus far. Oh, and if you don't have the Quiltmaker books (there are 2), they are gorgeous! They are based on 2 children's books. My kids have the books, which have amazing graphics and nice quilt patterns throughout. Joanne Larsen Line adapted the books to quilting books, based on the patterns in the children's books. These are dreamy. I highly recommend them.

Check back soon - I am going to add some more pictures to this blog entry later.