Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm knitting circles around you!

Another pair of socks finished, and they are sooo comfortable! These are Circle Socks -- free pattern on Ravelry -- made from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn. The texture pattern is amazingly easy to do.

I have several ideas for my next pair, but I need to look at the pictures again before I decide. I've been planning to jump into the Cat Bordhi book for a while now but I think I like doing top-down socks better than toe-up... we'll see!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Long Weekend

It's so wonderful having all these days off from work, and being able to laze around and do whatever I feel like... I could definitely get accustomed to it!

Yesterday afternoon I started making a little mystery quilt from Dorothy Young's yahoo group -- I finished all the blocks this morning, and before she posted "her" layout, I arranged them like this:

And then she posted her version, which looks like this:

I have lots of little HSTs left over, which I'm going to use for part of the border.  Haven't decided which layout I like better or what the rest of the border will be...

Has anyone switched to the new blog editor on blogger? Am I the only one who hates it and is planning to switch back?

I took a little outing to the nearby city of San Leandro this afternoon, for a very spicy chai latte and an "in person" look at Libby's quilts at the Zocalo Cafe. They are beautiful and I saw several I'd be pleased to hang on my walls!

I'll see if blogger will let me place one more picture here  (it wants to put them where I don't want them, and then won't let me edit without a lot of grief) These are a set of blocks from this year's Friday Block Party -- who knew I had that many fabrics with orange in them?  The block party is moving forward for another year, so feel free to jump in!  I think I'll switch to another color palette now.

Next up, chopping a whole lot of onions and garlic for our annual chili-fest tomorrow!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

my celestine

Otherwise known as a totally frivolous bit of knitting...
but when I saw this somewhere last week (was it on Knitty?) I had to drop everything else and make one! It's a stellated dodecahedron, which means 12 points. I used some funky variegated acrylic yarn that was in my stash for some reason, which was a bit heavier than the sock yarn in the free pattern. I have no idea what I'll do with this, or why on earth I HAD to make one, but I'm pretty happy with it!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

lost and found

This is the "missing" post, which I had foolishly put on the wrong blog a few days ago...

I'm a sucker for swaps, although I do try to keep it in check somewhat. One of my little yahoo groups does a set of round or row robins every year, and I just got my package back!

The top row was my starting row, and it actually came from another swap a couple of years ago. Five other quilters made me sets of 6 blocks to go along, using batik colors and various black backgrounds. I love the way it all came out -- the variety of blocks, the whimsy in the second row (what's in that jug, anyway?) and the colors. Some of my favorite quilts have come from these swaps.

In my continuing quest to capture birds on "film", I bring you the common titmouse. This guy is a little piggy when it comes to my bird feeder!

I'm hoping to have some cool knitty stuff to show very soon... my back has been freaking out the last couple of days so instead of sewing with a friend this afternoon I'm planning to lounge on her sofa and knit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

what's up with blogger THIS time?

I just wrote a post, added a couple of photos, tweaked the font because it's not doing what it's supposed to, and hit "publish" -- and it seems to have disappeared from the cosmos! So this is just a short test to see if it might publish. (the last one doesn't even show up on my dashboard as a draft,,,)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Y not?

A couple of months ago I met Sandy Klop, the designer of American Jane patterns and fabric, at a local quilt show. Someone had a version of this quilt in the show and I was blown away by the woven effect and by the fact that I could NOT figure out how it was constructed. It turns out that Sandi had the pattern for sale; it's called Pretzel Party. I had to have it, even after she told me it had lots of Y-seams. "I'm not afraid of Y-seams", I proclaimed boldly...
Ha ha ha. This damn quilt has 12 Y-seams in each block! Plus the ones in the half-pretzels around the sides. That's way too many Y-seams for me. Luckily I discovered this before I cut into the beautiful Bali-pop I was going to use, because I was smart enough to try a block with scraps first... very tedious stuff, and I don't do tedious over and over very well! (but I still think it would look terrific in batiks)
I spent a chaotic weekend in Seattle with my youngest brother and his brood. The heavy quilt seems to be a hit with the oldest daughter, as she slept more peacefully the first night with it. The middle kids are fun and crazy, but the youngest is a wild child, boundlessly energetic and fearless. This came to a head on Saturday when he was racing around the house and slid into the base of a table, dislodging one of his teeth... after an emergency trip to the dentist he will now have a bit of a gap-toothed smile until his permanent tooth grows in:
He screamed bloody murder until the tooth was pulled; after that he was back to racing around the house. (If you need the name of a fabulous pediatric dentist in Seattle, just ask -- this guy was amazing!)

And finally, just to keep one of my themes going, this was our hotel room in Seattle:
I swear, it's a different chain altogether than where we stayed in Madison (see banner above) but what is it with these pillows? Sculptural qualities aside, they are pretty much useless -- much too thick and foam-rubbery to sleep on comfortably.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

it's still the weekend!

Bucky has found an isle of tranquility in an otherwise inhospitable sea...
(in other words... haven't I learned yet?)

This beauty is the quilt that Margaret from Mainley Quilts of Love just sent back to me -- it's traveled 6,000 miles already because I had to take advantage of her "new business" quilting offer a couple of weeks ago. She did a sweet job of it! The pattern was the New Year's mystery from Planet Patchwork this year; I'm happy to hear that they're planning another one for January 1, 2010.
Here's a detail of some of the quilting around the stars and borders... I think I'll bring this one up to Seattle for my brother & his wife -- the parents of the kids who got the house quilts and the one who will be getting the pink "heavy quilt" next weekend. I've made stuff for all the kids but never for the adults!
I finished the rat race scarf and got all the eyes sewn on. I was going to give it away but now I'm having second thoughts...
and, in the spirit of "bah humbug" -- this is Grumpy the Lump of Coal! (free pattern at that I stitched up last night from the remainder of the rat yarn. I wonder who THIS little gem will go to...

Friday, November 27, 2009

random thoughts... too much tryptophan?

First up -- a photo of one of my first quilts! This was from about 2002 and the pattern came from Sandy Bonsib's "Folk Art Quilts" book. I've made quite a few of these hearts since then, for various little projects -- they're made of 1" squares. I really love this, and since I'd never posted it before I thought -- why not?

Question of the day, apropos of nothing: Do any of you have a Wii? Do you use Wii fitness? Do you like it? Does it get used more often than, say, an exercycle or a treadmill? Just asking...

More stuff from the design wall. These are assorted blocks from Susan Briscoe's Japanese Blocks book. I have a small bin of Asian-type fabrics that I want to use up (or in some cases, just cut into!) so I cut out the pieces for 12 - 9" blocks and started putting them together for a sampler. I'm planning to make a bento box quilt from a lot of what's left...These are blocks for a disappearing 9-patch, meant to use up some bright scraps. I've been rearranging square to try to even things out, and I notice that there are a couple more that might need to be moved before I sew this together!

We had a nice dinner with friends last night -- I cooked most of it -- and now there will be several meals of leftovers and a freezer full of turkey stock. I bought a kosher turkey, which stayed very moist but came without the giblets so the gravy was lacking a bit. Excellent Brussels sprouts, too -- the recipe came from the NY Times -- with bacon and dried figs. Yummy!

Coming soon -- a picture of the quilt I just got back from being quilted by Margaret, and maybe some knitting.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

swaps and blocks

This is the little quilt I received from Nann for the holiday edition of the 4 seasons quilt swap. I don't have any email address for Nann (the link on her blog doesn't work) s0 if you're reading this, Nann... Thanks!
And this is what's on my design wall, a day early. I participated in a few months of a log cabin BOM at a local store -- I decided to use a little set of shot cottons that I got from Pinwheels a few years ago, along with some soft prints from my stash. I want to make a few more blocks and then I'll figure out how they're going to go together.

My computer is still a mess -- will only start up in safe mode, and the IT guy has never called despite a reminder after a few days! It won't open the utility to download photos from the camera, either. Grrr.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cats take over the earth...

Five minutes after I got out of bed this morning, I came back in the bedroom and found this:
The bed itself is no longer good enough for Bucky -- he deserves my pillow, too!

In other news -- my desktop computer is freaking out. It will only start up in safe mode and that means that the printer, camera, etc won't work. Of course it's 5-1/2 years old so past the Dell warranty period. I've asked our company IT guy how to proceed so that means I should have an answer in 2-3 weeks...

And then yesterday the lock on our front door decided to give up the ghost. It's been fussy for a while now, and it's probably about 40 years old. The locksmith was supposed to show up between 10-12 today, and it's now 11:45. Doesn't it always work that way? I could have stayed in my pj's for an extra 2 hours!

On the quilting front, I've finished up my various swap obligations for November and on to bigger and better things!

The locksmith's truck just arrived... gotta go!

Monday, November 09, 2009

bad yarn

Do you know what this is? It's the (aaargh!) crap yarn that I'm using for a pair of socks that is 3/5 done. The first ball went fine except for maybe one shredded spot that I ignored. The second ball... I'll be knitting along and all of a sudden the yarn ends. Because it's just broken. And then there's a whole series of these shreddy spots. I haven't seen any moth larva, and I haven't had issues with moths on any of the other yarn in my closet.

So, yarn mavens out there -- is this moth damage or just a really bad ball of yarn? Why didn't it break when I was winding into the ball? Have you ever had this happen?

By the way, it's Louet Gems, 100% washable wool. For some reason, I've now lost interest in finishing this pair...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

heavy lifting

This is a weighted blanket. I have a severely disabled 11-year old niece. She was born with some unidentified genetic glitch which has endowed her with a variety of special needs. She appears to be very autistic but that's not it... anyway, for some time I've been hearing about "heavy blankets" being a comfort to many people with sensory disorders, and I've talked with my brother about them but never quite knew how to construct one.

Then I ran across a free pattern on Craft Nectar -- Weeks Ringle's blog -- and decided to give it a try. I used some winnings from the Block Lotto to make the top, and the back is a solid piece of flannel in a floral print. Basically, you sew lengthwise channels and pour in small amounts of poly pellets and then sew crosswise to create a simple series of squares. This one has about 5 pounds of pellets.

It was fairly easy to make, although those pellets seem to scatter with little provocation! If I did it again, I would either make sure that all my seams were pressed toward the bottom (so that the pellets wouldn't get caught as I poured them in) or use a solid piece of fabric on both sides. I sewed through about 10 pellets on my first row and trust me -- you don't want to do that!

I'll be delivering the blanket at the beginning of December and I can't wait to see how Keely likes it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

With a little help from my friends

It's been a quiet week here in... where am I again?

I've been busily working away at my little quilt for the holiday edition of the Four Seasons Quilt Swap, and it's now done. It started out with a little bargello; then I decided that it needed a few "crop circles" (thanks Poppyprint!); then it needed some shiny ribbon around the circles to turn them into ornaments. Finally, it was quilted with a freehand holly design lifted from Leah's 365 days of patterns. What would we do without all the talented and generous quilters out there in blogland?
I have a couple of other things that will be ready to show later this week, I hope.

I'll just leave you with the Buckster. I pulled out a stack of small batting pieces the other day to find one for the holiday quilt. That cat has batting radar, I swear -- as soon as I walked away, he took possession and has barely left it since. I guess the top piece will have to become my next quilting practice piece...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rats and Cats

Maybe it's my Halloween mood... but I've started knitting a "rat race" scarf! Here are the first three rats:This came in a kit from Morehouse Farm (the same folks who sell the alligator scarf kit that I made for my niece last year). There will be 8 rats with beady red eyes when it's done. n This one might go to my brother... Morehouse has some seriously cute patterns but I wish the yarn was a little bit softer for wearing around the neck.

And, look! There are cats to go with the rats. This is the quilt I finished up for the East Bay Humane Society's annual cat art auction or sale. I don't know whether this will go in the auction yet, or whether I need to set a price for it. I always have trouble with that. I call it "Patient Cats Waiting for Dinner" -- sort of a lesson for Bucky, who is anything but patient when it comes to mealtime!

I tried a variety of quilting patterns in this, spurred on by Leah's 365 days of filler patterns. This one was really fun to do -- it's roughly based on her "radio static" but a little sloppier than hers!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

PIQF Report

My plan to go to PIQF on Friday to avoid the Saturday crowds sort of backfired! It was jammed yesterday, and often hard to see (and photograph) the quilts. Overall I thought the show was a good one -- although I did have some "what were they thinking when they juried this in?" moments. Quilts still tend to be more heavily quilted than I like, and there's the increasing trend of "paint the fabric and then stitch it" rather than doing any piecing. I still like pieced quilts better!

Here are just a few of my favorites:
Habitat in the Sun, by Morag Orr-Stevens of Canada (65" x 67")
Parasol, by Liz Jones of the UK (39" square)
Not Even Solomon... by Ruth de Vos of Australia (71" x 58")
Storm Warning, by Shirley Prakke of South Africa (50"x55")
here's a close-up of one of the rows of tiny houses and a mola-style applique; there are words embroidered in the darker red strips
Marshland, by Lynda Christiansen of Eugene, OR (32" square)

I managed to spend practically nothing at the fabric vendors, but I did do some damage to my wallet on the scrumptious box of yarn:
It came with a pattern for a short-sleeved cardigan knitted in random vertical stripes of the various yarns. I can't wait to get started on this!

And, I did have a chance to meet up with Libby briefly -- we live pretty close together and have been blog-friends for a while but never managed to connect in person before.