Sunday, November 25, 2007

For a new arrival

I bought some fabric this summer while visiting a quilt shop which wasn't "quite me". All their fabric was pastel coloured wheras I tend to go for more bright colurs . There was one bundle of fabric which called out to me to have another look, though, and I ended up buying it to challenge myself a bit. The idea was to mix the fabric in among the rest of my stash to add some contrast, but the bundle has been lying on my shelf ever since.
When a rather mature friend of mine announced that she was expecting her first baby, I knew I'd make a quilt, but I was superstitious enough to push it off until I knew that everything was all right. Her little baby girl was delivered a forthnight ago and thankfully, all was well.
I really had no idea about what to make, but my eyes came to rest on that little bundle of fabric on my shelf, and I realized they were perfect for a little girl. I chose a very simple pattern of squares and rectangles and quilted with an allover pattern of floral swirls. Nothing original - it is in fact the same pattern and the same quilting as on my Amy Butler quilt, but it lets the fabric show itself in all its glory. It is sweet, but not the usual girly pink one might choose for a baby although one fabric - the white with red flowers that you see on the very left here looks pink when seen from a distance - all the colours are slightly "off" , which is why they never seemed to want to play with anything in my stash.

I chose a salmon pink thread for the quilting and it blends in well with all the other colours. I pieced the back of the remaining strips of fabric, so there is nothing left to go in my stash, but who cares - from my pictures yesterday you know there's quite enough there already, right?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gray day - with lots of colour

The weather today didn't tempt me into venturing outside. The wind has been howling around the corners of the building carrying fistfuls of sleet. I had planned on taking lots of photos today, but the light wasn't really up to it.
I started a project I have been putting off for a while instead: tidying and putting away fabric. The plastic crates I keep them in (mushroom crates, free from the supermarket) were a mess, so I spent some time sorting through them, rediscovering lots of gems and making decisions about new projects. A sewing basket for my mother and a folder for travel documents (like this) are among them.
Even though I probably have enough fabric for a lifetime of projects, that didn't stop me from buying some more. The temptation from Jane's post yesterday was too great, and I just had to order some of this!
Having sorted through all my fabric and put everything back in it's place again, under a wide shelf underneth the window (sorry, the direct light made it difficult to take a good picture, but you get the idea) I spent some time working on this (second picture). It's almost done now! I also finished my table runner and the baby quilt yesterday, so all in all I have been rather industrious lately, haven't I? Pictures tomorrow. And what started out as a gray day became quite colourful after all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Off days

I have taken some days off from work, looking forward to days of pottering about at home, shopping for Christmas and visiting friends, but wouldn't you know it: I woke up on Monday with a runny nose, and thigs hab beed gedding steadily worse since then. My mother called a little while ago and thought she had gotten the wrong number, she didn't recognise my voice.
Needless to say, there has been little shopping and visiting so far, but a lot of pottering about...
Yesterday evening was spent curled up under a quilt watching old Seinfeld shows. I had several projects within reach, but couldn't be bothered to do a stitch in either knitting, quilting or embroidery project - I'm usually unable to just sit and do nothing with my hands, but for once it was just what I needed: Some quiet time, doing nothing.

Apart from the stuffy nose I'm more energized today, and have been quilting on a little something for a new arrival. I finished the top during the weekend, and cleaned and prepared my sewing machine yesterday, making it ready for a serious quilting session. Or so I thought. I had found the perfect salmon pink rayon thread to go with all the colours in the quilt, but within the first inch of stitching it snapped. I rethreaded the machine and tried again. Same result. I tried quilting on a quilt sandwich I keep by the machine for testing tension and stitches and it worked all right. Back to the quilt. The thread snapped. "Oh, well it was an old spool, maybe it's too old, I'll try another one." I found a pale yellow that might work - not as well as the salmon one, but still... Same result.
I thought I had cleaned the machine thoroughly yesterday, but I removed thread, needle, spool and all and used a can of compressed air to blow behind the spoolhouse and lo and behold, a small clot of dust and grime popped out. Everything was put back together again, and the quilting was just fine, salmon thread and all! There has been a lot of discussion in my guild about using compressed air to clean sewing machines. Some say that it may be harmful to the machine, pushing dust into areas where you can't get at it, but I don't know, I have found it helpful at more than one occasion, so I guess I will continue using it...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Trientalis europaea

I have been struggling with some crazy log cabin flower blocks lately. It took a while to get my head around the concept - starting with an uneven triangle and stitching wedges and uneven strips around it in a haphazard log cabin fashion, having to discard a lot of offcuts, seemed to go very much against the grain (pardon the pun!) of my early lessons in quilting where following the grain of the fabric, cutting precisely and making good use of even the tiniest scrap of fabric has been the most important rules of all. After a while I got into the spirit of it all and it became a lot easier and more fun along the way, so here they are, my three flowers stitched together to form a table-runner.
It started out as a christmassy thing with the flowers being white poinsettias, but I couldn't resist adding some blues and teals, and in my mind the flowers have now become Arctic starflowers, making the runner suitable for all year usage. Never mind that the real ones have six petals and mine only have four - I'm allowed some artistic freedom, right? ;-)

I was going to crop the picture, but why not leave some hints around the edges of what is going around outside my quilting realm. A bit of laundry waiting to be dealt with, some wine wanting to be drunk (although some of the bottles are empty already...) and my craft box of paints and brushes waiting under the table for when inspiration strikes. A wider angle would have revealed a lot more mess, but I'm slowly, slowly bringing my home into some semblance of order - throwing out stuff I never use and pairing down to get more room for the things I really want to spend time on. I have some great projects in mind that will bring that box up on the table soon, but first I'llhave to deal with some of this domestic mess that seems to accumulate out of nowhere... I am going to spend some time quilting my flowers first, though. I have added some french knots to the centers, but it looks like it needs something more, maybe some beads? I'll

do the quilting first, and see what it tells me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Kaffe knits again

-and so do I! I have been inspired by Kaffe Fassett since I came across his first knitting book and always loved his way with colours. Here at last was somone who didn't frown at using all kinds of bright colours together - the more the merrier. My sense of colour has never been of the subdued "tasteful" variety, and it was a relief to find someone who said it was OK to use bold colour and even said so In A Book! (And we all know that if a book says so, it's true, right?) Not only did the guy knit, but he alsa made the most wonderful tapestries. My bookshelves have gradually been filled with new books by this wonderful designer over the years. My interest in knitting waned for a while after I got a new passion: quilting. These days I consider myself a quilter more than anything else, but slowly, slowly knitting has been sneaking up on me again. Inspired by numerous blogs I decided to try my hand at a pair of toe-up socks with short row heels. I'm always up for a challenge, and this way of going about it just had to be tested. I found the perfect yarn for it - Regia self striping in a colourway designed by none other than Kaffe Fassett - who could resist it?
I tried several patterns and the toe was knitted and unravelled three times before I got a shape I liked. This formula at Knitty helped a great deal. My knitting doesn't seem as even as it used to be, but I suppose practise will make better, if not perfect. It took a while to get the heel right, but I think I have mastered it at last, and my first sock is almost done. I will make an effort to finish the other one as well ;-)
Today's arrival may slow me down a bit, though - this exciting book arrived today, and I'm looking forward to spending some time curled up under a quilt with it.

Within sight of this lovely cushion - it's far too new and precious to be used
yet! I bought the kit at Ehrman's in London years ago. It's designed by Elian McGrady who apparently worked with mr. Fassett before she started making her own designs. You can see the influence, but she creates lovely work in her own right. The kit had been languishing on my shelf for ages before my mother came to the rescue a year ago, and last week she had finished it! It looks just wonderful, doesn't it? Thank you mum!