Happy Chinese New Year…of the Dog

woof! woof!

If you were born in 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1942, etc, this is your year.

Here is a darling foundation pieced dog to celebrate the season. He is a very old pattern, which I found and ripped out from the November 1995 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine! At the time, I really didn’t quite understand foundation piecing and I lived in Shanghai China so there was no one to ask. The pattern is by Helen Giddens.

I think he needs a bigger googly eye, but this was the only size I had for him. I don’t know if this pattern is copyrighted and I have not been able to find out about that. If you are interested in having a copy of him, let me know in the comments.

Go out and have a yummy Chinese dinner tonight, even if you aren’t a dog. ;-D

 

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New/Old Rug Hooking Project

I do like to hand quilt, but doing the same hand motion repeatedly can lead to pain and carpal tunnel, so I thought hooking would be a nice break. The project I talked about doing in this post turns out not to be something to do while watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Soooo I dug around for something else, and I came across this rug which I have started twice! The designs originally were for first time hookers and are reminiscent of sampler quilts that I have done over the years. I liked the idea of a sampler rug and if I teach beginning hooking again, I can point at the squares and ask “which one would you like to do?”. Teachers of any sort of craft end up with a lot of (useless) samples. Here you can see students working on the heart and flower pattern in the middle row on the right.

When I began the rug, we lived in Illinois and I was into dark colors. They don’t appeal to me now (in South Carolina). So I ripped out the squares I had done and started hooking some marbelized dyed fabrics, which I think are so fun.

Then I stopped because I wasn’t happy with this square – is it too busy? I’ve decided to try another square and mull this one over.

You can see in the picture of the whole rug that there are empty squares between the patterned ones. And of course, in the tradition of these sort of antique rugs, I need to decide what to hook in the alternate squares. I looked at rugs for sale online and stole these to show you and consider for myself.

This is a beauty!

Here is a real log cabin look.

Stripes would be the easiest and use lots of wool strips up. This makes me think of a runner in my grandparents’ house that I’ve wonderred about since I began hooking. I wish I knew if it was a hand made one.

And the caption on this wonderful design said it is made of vintage ladies wool bathing suits! I really like the scallop-y nature of this filler…

Lots of fun choices!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Peter is starting to prepare the game day food as I write this…

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HQAL – A New Tool!

First things first; here is my quilt. I thought I was on the last quarter of the middles, but it turns out that I have a half to go (the bottom half in the picture). Geez….I guess I dreamed that I was on the last quarter.

My general rule for machine or hand quilting, is to match the thread to the background. In the case of a dark fabric, it can be difficult to see where I’m going. Although I have Ott lights all over the house and right by my chair, I often have trouble positioning the light exactly where I need it to be. When I was in a toy store recently, I saw this,

and was reminded of a quilt teacher/friend, who uses a miners head lamp for applique and quilting! It works pretty well, though Peter is continually startled when I look at him and pin him in the spotlight. I think it will be great to take when we travel as hotel rooms rarely have decent lighting. (I also know a quilter who takes her own light bulbs when she travels!) Google miner’s lamp and you will find many options…

Despite the fact that I thought I was on the last quarter, I have made good progress – so many football games to watch. As I stitch along, I have been looking at the border and wondering what to do there. Borders always flummox me. I was hoping that the fabric print had a vine or some sort of pattern that I could follow, but it does not.

Stay tuned! And please check out the blogs of these ladies who are working away on their quilt tops! This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Susan , Jessica  , SherryNanette, Sassy,  Edith ,  Sharon and Bella.

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A Pressing Station!

If you are a quilter, or do anything with large hunks of fabric, you know what I am about to say – an ironing board is not a useful shape or size. It’s pointy and narrow; good for ironing clothing but not for pressing* fabrics or quilt tops. Since returning from the river cruise, I have been in a fit of organizing and I looked at my ironing board and its space with a critical eye. I have had it in several spots in the studio and nothing has been right. When I complained to Peter about it, he offered to help me find a solution.

Initially we thought about reworking an existing table, and looked at work benches. Though they are about the right size, they are way too big and sturdy. We then looked at tables and couch tables. I thought it would be easy to add a sturdy top. Though many were nice, they were expensive and often rickety. So – Peter said he would make me one from scratch! In the studio, I had to decide where to put it. This is a spot where it’s been…

And it was here another time. The closet door is one of two into the dormer area and I don’t use this one. The new station will work well here.

Many years ago, I got a certificate in fiber from the Worcester Center for Crafts. In the fiber studio, we had huge work tables, made using 4’x 8′ plywood sheets with a felted fabric underneath, covered with muslin that could be taken off to wash. We silk screened and did any number of projects on them. It turns out that a pressing surface really shouldn’t be as hard as an ironing board typically is, so we stapled an old wool blanket to the top (a wedding gift from my mother…) and now I must make a muslin cover with elastic so that I can easily take it off to wash.

Here is the wonderful top getting its legs attached. We measured where my arms should be for pressing, or any work that I do standing up, and the table is the correct height. You can see that it is very sturdy! It is made of a composite top we found that’s 2’x4′. All the hardware that Peter found is sized for 2″x 4″ wood, so the construction was fairly simple.

One of the reasons that I began dreaming about a pressing station was because my iron started leaking. I did some online research as well as asking quilting friends, and decided to buy an Oliso. They are funny things – I used one at a workshop and could not figure out how to use it, but once I did, I liked it a lot. (I call it “the hopper” because that is what it does when you touch it!) When not being used, it wants to be horizontal to the surface, which is perfect for the pressing table. Most irons, if you leave them that way, will leak. It is not an inexpensive iron, but it is an important tool that I constantly use when I am sewing.

Thanks so much Peter! I am already using it and it’s perfect! If you have a handy spouse, I suggest you persuade them to make you your very own pressing station…

Pressing* is what a quilter usually does. We iron fabrics, with a back and forth motion like you would a shirt, but after sewing seams, we press them down and flat. 

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Hand Quilt Along…hmmmm….

Hand quilting is slow and steady work. And when you match the quilting thread to the background as I usually do, it is very hard to see. In last month’s post, I told you that I have divided the quilt into quadrants so that I can see the progress I am making. The center of the quilt was done when I pulled it out of the closet. I have completed this quadrant – can you see the line I drew? (I just discovered that I can mark up photographs with the new High Sierra upgrade…)

Now I will be moving over to the next area. Perhaps you can actually see my quilting on the right hand side?

This is such a great time of year to hand quilt! The temperatures in northwestern South Carolina have been so cold! Night time has been in the teens and the daytime hits freezing – – – very cold for this area. The quilt draped all over me keeps me quite comfortable as I stitch. The cats are happy in their buttercup beds, for the most part, so I continue to make progress.

For those of you not so interested in my hand quilting report, here are some New Year updates on what I am doing! I have put away my Christmas cross stitch project as I am not in the mood and I have an issue to deal with. With the upcoming NFL playoff games and the Olympics next month, there will be lots of time for hand work. To rest my quilting fingers, I am tempted to resume hooking this project, by Angela Foote, from several years ago…

And here is a teaser for you – I am auditioning colors for my next quilt project. Can you guess what pattern I will be making?

 

Here are the other quilters participating in the quilt along. Do check them out and leave an encouraging comment!

Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Susan , Jessisca  ,  SherryNanette, Sassy and Edith

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The Finish of Nick & Two Tips!

 

Peter came in one day to check on Nick and started laughing. I was sitting at my desk area and asked what was so funny. He replied that I had better watch out for his crotch area… Of course everything would be trimmed when I completed the fusing, but it was funny nonetheless. You can see that I was auditioning two sets of eyes and wondering how bright should his nose be.

I fiddled around for a week or so and here is his final face…

Nick is very large (about 40″x40″) and he hung over the edges of the office table that I use in the studio to work on. To do the final fusing and cut him out, I used the dining room table. Here he is cut out and ready to glue (!) on the background fabric.

Marking lines for machine quilting was no picnic! Every resourceful quilter knows to tape rulers together to get the lengths they need. (Tip #1) – I very much like the washable blue marker, but it was a mistake in this case. I was not able to immerse the quilt in water and I spritzed and spritzed with water to get the blue out. I did it so much that the red fabrics started to bleed!

I have mentioned this tool before, but it bears repeating! (Tip #2) – here I am quilting straight lines using my Sweet 16. I have practised holding a ruler with my left hand and moving the fabric with my right and inevitably the ruler shifts and I go off track. Jenny of QuiltSkipper recommended this Line Tamer Template by FourPawsQuilting, and it works so well.

Here is Nick on the wall of Island Quilters, next to his relative, Ebba.

I took Nick’s portrait before I sent him off to Island Quilters. I am looking forward to seeing him hang over our mantlepiece next December!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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The Very Wonderful Nick!

As I have mentioned often, my friend Beth now owns Island Quilters on Hilton Head Island. We became friends when we were both posted in Singapore with our husbands. We shared so many common interests and I helped her learn how to quilt. In January I went to the store to talk with the customers about my great passion for hexagons, specifically English Paper Pieced ones. I was wandering around the store the day before and she asked if I had heard of Laura Heine. I said no and she said, I have a pattern of hers that I think you would like, and she handed me Nick. We both love Santas and as we were oooohing and aaaahing over him I blurted out “Shall I make a store sample for you?”. She immediately said “yes!”. I have been wondering ever since if I was set up, but no matter, I was delighted to have that assignment.

I have done some fused quilts over the years, but Nick is made using a collage technique. The pattern is basically a coloring book page – Nick is an outline – and the quilter is free to fill him in as desired. Laura Heine evidently came up with this technique to use up some of the many floral fabrics that she had in her store. I used to buy florals, but now they are not the fabrics I gravitate to. Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics are perfect for this technique and I did snag some of Beth’s scraps.

Because I knew I wanted to share Nick with you and because I suspected Beth would like me to talk with her customers about Nick, I took a lot of pictures. I hope you will enjoy seeing him emerge.

Fusible web works much like double stick tape. You peel one side off and iron it on the fabric. You peel the other side off when you are feeling ready to place the piece. (The fabrics in the photos that are curled still have the backing on.) Fusibles have improved a lot over the years and now they are more like Colorforms and can be moved around a lot before permanently fusing them to the background. I started with his face and I did some auditions…

If you look at this picture, you can see that there are 5 areas of white – the hat trim, his eyebrows, his mustache and his beard. I worked hard to make them different. The hat trim is creamy with a small red and green print. His eyebrows have a white newsprint fabric, his mustache is a very white and black print and his beard is an assortment of creamy prints. I even found a white poinsettia print in a quilt store that worked in his beard and on his face.

Then I started to fill in, up and down and up and down. It’s hard to decide when to stop.

This is what the studio looked like for several weeks! It is very hard to be neat and tidy and it’s one of many reasons I am grateful to have my own space.

 

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I did a little talk/demo at Island Quilters recently. I told the ladies to take one of my business cards and e-mail me their Nick, done or in progress, for the next blog post. Ladies, I am waiting! We all want to see your wonderful version of Nick.

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HQAL – the dog ate my homework!

What follows is my December Hand Quilt Along report:

One afternoon I took the quilt up to the studio and fussed with it. Years ago I  pin basted it in order to machine quilt it and then decided to hand quilt it. When I decided to hand quilt the top, I should  have then thread basted it…but was lazy. The pins do not hold the three layers securely enough, so periodically  I have to smooth all the layers and re pin it. I put the whole bundle in my evening chair fully intending to quilt it that night. And here is what I found later that evening. It’s the cat equivalent of “the dog ate my homework”.

How could I possibly disturb the little man?!? The cats always love whatever I am working on, so now I put the quilt where they can’t reach it. However, last night Gizmo jumped in the middle of my lap, and the quilt….what can a cat loving quilter do?

That concludes my excuses for lack of progress…

Seriously, I have divided the quilt into quarters with pins so that I can keep track of what I have accomplished. I have gotten my rhythm back and am enjoying the work, even quilting around all the triangles. ( Kerry asked and here is the answer: There are 352 flying geese and 160 New York Beauty spikes.)

Here are links to the other talented quilters participating. Go check them out and give them some atta girls!

Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Deborah,  Susan , Jessisca  ,  SherryNanette, Sassy and Edith

 

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Gift Ideas For…

…your cat. Last year I found the Buttercup bed in an expensive catalog. I waited for the inevitable 20% off and free shipping offer and ordered one. Our cats loved it! Gizmo slept in it during the day and Jasmine did at night. This year when I got the bed out, Jasmine immediately jumped in it. Gizmo stood there, looking disgruntled and so it went. I Googled Bowsers Buttercup bed and found many sellers on Amazon, including several for Amazon Prime (yippee!). Both cats are now happy to have their own beds. It comes in several sizes and is made for small dogs… You can see that there is a drawstring to adjust. The cats love it no matter how we have it adjusted. It washes well, though cat owners will have to pick out the fuzz.

…your husband. I can’t remember where I came across this website, but it has fun/ny things for men. If you have been married a long time, you know how difficult it is to find something for your DH. As well as gifts, Man Crates carries advent calendars. This one is called The Strike Before Christmas and has a funny verse behind each door and a jerky or candy treat! (I also found a lot of great “man” gifts” on The Grommet.)

… the crafty person. I have known about Spoonflower for some years; it’s a web-based company that makes fabrics from a design that you send them, or you can purchase other people’s designs. This Fall I got a catalog from them and discovered that they print not only fabrics but wallpaper and wrapping paper. The catalog is full of fun ideas. I was particularly taken by this page full of dish towels. Every December, one of my grandmothers would buy a calendar dish towel, use it and then make it into an apron the following year. Spoonflower has loads of calendar dish towels. (They suggest making them into pillows after the year is over!) I ordered several fat quarters, which evidently will include one design repeat. The towels will need to be hemmed, but they will be fun small and last-minute gifts.

…stocking stuffers. When I was little there were Decembers that my family (and often some cousins), would board the train in Trenton New Jersey and head for Christmas with my grandparents in Florida. An overnight train ride was super fun and our families had several rooms in a row on the sleeper car. Before we went to bed, my parents would give us each a surprise ball. Tiny toys and gifts are wrapped in crepe paper and what a treat it is to unwrap them! If you Google surprise ball, lots of sellers come up. I bet the hand-made Etsy ones would be really wonderful.

I really enjoy shopping for the special people in my life. Inquiring minds want to know – what unusual things have you found this year?

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Christmas Counted Cross Stitch

“Christmas in July” as a sales pitch made by quilting and needlework stores does not appeal to me; I work on Christmas projects in December when I am in the mood. Consequently they take several years to complete! This cross stitch project is a mash-up that I started it in 2015 . As you can see from the photo below, the patterns are by Birds of a Feather, who no longer do counted cross stitch patterns.

When I bought these patterns, I envisioned the designs being combined into one picture. I do not make or collect Christmas stockings…I adore the knitted ones my mother made for me {at birth} and Peter {when we got engaged}. I also hang another knitted one that a dear friend made decades ago. I came up with the mash-up idea so that I “could” buy the patterns. ;-D

The fabric is cotton and 18 squares per inch – my favorite size to work on. Nowadays, I require good light and my readers, because of the size and the dark fabric. My design plan is to stitch the sledding elves to the bottom right of the snowman and Santa will be dancing in the top right. I’m not sure whether the reindeer will make the cut – perhaps he can be in the top left jumping towards Santa. I have a lot of stitching to go until that decision needs to be made.

I work on this one night and then I hand quilt on my quilt along project the next evening.

{Should you want to find some of the delightful Birds of a Feather patterns, 123stitch still has some stock.}

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