Monday, April 16, 2018

Crocheted Baby Afghans

Here are the latest baby afghans I've crocheted.  The first is a nice peachy-pinky color.

I simply used single crochet and double crochet for the whole thing.  Then I added in one row of "filagree," creating a little interest to the overall pattern.

This purple one ended up to be square.

On each end I crocheted some filagree spaces in two bands across the afghan.

And, just for fun, I purposely made a little square "hole" in the body.

This light blue one turned out very nicely, I think.

I used a stitch where I skip a stitch, then do a single crochet and a double crochet both in the next stitch.  It makes a nice little pattern.

And this afghan is made up of my leftover yarns.  I really like making these scrappy afghans.

Here are all four of the afghans.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Asilomar 2018

I went to Asilomar again a few weeks ago, to attend Empty Spools Seminars.  This time my teacher was Louisa Smith, and her class was called Strips and Curves.  So, of course, our class was known as the strippers!  Oh, what a fun class, having nothing to do with stripping!!

In preparing for the class, I first chose a focus fabric, which is the large floral Kaffe Fassett in the foreground of the first photo below.  Then I pulled as many fabrics as I could find in my stash that even remotely went with that fabric.  Those are swatches that I've glued onto a piece of paper next to the focus fabric.  At the last minute I also threw in a set of 1/2 yard cuts of turquoise fabrics that I found.  Really glad that I did.  

Our class instructions (before we arrived at class) said to cut one or two 1 1/2" strips from each fabric.  So here are all my strips, plus the turquoise ones I cut later, during class.

Louisa then played with my fabric strips.  She grouped all the purples together, the aquas, etc.  She also took into consideration hue, making a pleasing "array" of the strips, so they all flowed nicely together.  I pieced all of these strips together, the result of which was a new "fabric" consisting of one-inch (finished) strips.  You can see in the photo below how nicely the turquoise/aqua strips play together and show up the tiny bits of that color in my focus fabric.

I have to say, sewing all of these strips together was not a piece of cake!!  Each seam had to be pressed open, so the new "fabric" would lie flatter than it would with seams pressed to one side.  

A couple years ago I made for myself a "gizmo" to help with pressing seams open.
Here it is.  I don't even know what the tool is called, but I know a quilting tool exists which is shaped like this.  At the time, I needed one NOW!  Living in the boonies as I do, I decided that I could make one; it's fairly simple.  

This tool is like a wooden dowel that has been sliced in half length-wise.  So I went to my local hardware store/lumbar yard and asked if they had any half-round molding, which is what this shape is called.  No, they didn't, but they did have quarter-rounds.  So I bought a strip of that, and they cut it into two equal lengths for me, about 17 inches long.  

 This photo shows the end of the thingy, and you can see that there are two quarter circles, which I glued together with wood glue.  

Then I covered the whole length with a strip of batting, then a piece of muslin, which I glued on top of the batting.  When it's lying flat side down, there is a nice curved surface on top.  That is a big help when pressing seams open, because the seam line lies on top of the "hill" and is very easily pressed open. I needed this when I was making Disappearing Four Patch blocks.  Those have a lot of intersecting seams, so it's a good idea to press them open.  

Flat side (bottom) of the pressing tool.

Anyway, I knew I would be pressing seams open, so I wanted to take my pressing tool to Asilomar with me.  I thought of it in the middle of the night. . .  You know the story:  completely forgotten!  (BTW, I've since decided that in the middle of the night I should send myself an email if I have an idea about something.  I don't have paper and pen beside my bed, but I do have my phone charging.)

So I forgot to take the pressing tool with me.  That would have helped a lot, but I managed to get things pressed flat.  

Louisa Smith has created a set of curved cutting templates.  We proceeded to create blocks by cutting pieces of our focus fabric, pieces of our strata (sewn together strips), and pieces of some of the accompanying fabrics.  In the photo below you can see the large piece of focus fabric making the curve in the top left of the block.  Then I used one of the templates and cut a piece of my strata to put next to the focus fabric.  I used the turquoise part of the strata, so there would be nice contrast between the two pieces.  The "spikey" piece made up of bright pink and turquoise fabrics, the next curved arc, was paper pieced.  Louisa has also designed paper piecing diagrams as another way to combine fabrics.  And the small flowered piece in the lower right of the block is one of the fabrics from the strata.

The rest of the week's class was devoted to putting together pieces like this.  Although it sounds simple, it can be very tricky to find the right template to use when cutting the next piece of fabric.  As anyone who has done curved piecing and/or drunkard's path blocks knows, those two fabric edges do not look like they will fit together.  But they do!  

We used our design walls, and moved pieces here and there, trying to find the best arrangement of blocks.  Below is a photo of my design wall during the process.

Here is my group of 20 blocks which I ended up with.  They are not sewn together in this photo.  Some of the individual blocks are not even sewn together into the blocks.  I used many, many pins to secure the blocks to my piece of white fabric piece (which covers the design board), in order to transport them home with some sort of order!  I also took a lot of photos before I left.  I rotated the photos to decide which configuration looked best to me.  

Now I'm working on sewing together the pieces of my blocks, then I'll sew the blocks together.

This has been (is being) a very fun thing to do.  I learned a lot from this class.  Louisa Smith is a great teacher, and I recommend taking a class from her if you ever get the chance.

Friday, March 16, 2018

More Afghans Crocheted

Even when I'm not quilting, or writing on my blog, my fingers are usually active.  Here are some of the baby afghans I've made recently.  In December I took quite a few of them to the Project Santa people here in my town, to be distributed to people who need them.

This one was made to use up all my little leftover pieces of yarn.  I think I like how it turned out!

For this one, I just happened to have a variegated yarn with light blues and greens in it, and it just happened to go with some leftover blue and green yarns I had.

And then the fun of crocheting with variegated yarn.  I added a little interest by leaving some "holes" in a few of the rows.

This bright pink afghan is made using double crochet.  I left blank stitches ("holes") very randomly throughout the afghan.

Another fun variegated yarn.

I varied big and little stitches for this one.

And more. . .

and more. . . 

. . . and more.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Aprons For Two Fish Bakery

Last week I spent a lot of my time sewing aprons.  I've mentioned before that I make aprons for Margaret at TwoFish Bakery.  I really enjoy making these aprons.  Choosing two fabrics for each apron is a big part of the fun.

This one looks like jelly beans!  I don't usually choose a solid fabric for an apron, but this blue went so well with the colorful jelly beans.

This lovely lemon fabric was left over after I made the "food baby quilt" for little GranddaughterStitches when she was first born.  

This last one is bread fabric!  I found it at my local quilt shop, The Loft.  Most appropriate for a bakery, I think.

And here is Margaret with the aprons.  She was so happy that she put on all three!

These aprons really are fun to make, especially when I get into the groove and make several.  My paper pattern is beginning to show wear though, with lots and lots of pin holes.  So I traced the pattern onto some pattern-tracing pellon.  This will make it last much longer.

* * * * *

Then on Friday I went to a quilting work day with some members of my Quilt Guild.  We were working on things to sell at our fund raisers.  And I had some Christmas fabric, so I made--guess what--more aprons!

I think they came out quite nice.  The red fabric has a very small white dot pattern on it.  The only difference in these aprons is that they have no pockets.  Margaret insists on having pockets on her aprons.  (Personally, I don't!)  But I had misplaced the pattern piece for the pockets.  I know I could have just made a square pocket, instead of the curved one in the pattern, but without pockets these aprons went together lickety-split fast!

They are all ready to be sold!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Retreat 2018

Wow, it has been a long break I've taken here from blogging!  I was kept pretty busy during January rehearsing for a mystery play, written by MisterStitches himself!  It was done locally, at Gualala Arts Center, as a dinner theater.  One scene was performed, then people were given appetizer, then another scene, followed by a salad, yadda, yadda, yadda.

That was a very busy time, with rehearsals every day and sometimes on weekends.  We had lots of visitors for the play, too.  DaughterStitches and family (3), SonStitches and family (3), MomStitches (1), and some friendStitches (2).  (Did that last thing work?!?)

Immediately after the play--the very next day--MomStitches and I left for my guild's annual retreat, held in beautiful downtown Healdsburg, at a very nice hotel.  It was fun having MomStitches with me this year.  So along with the play, I had a lot of work to do getting the retreat ready, too.  I would set my timer for 30 minutes and practice my lines.  Then I'd set it for 30 minutes and work on retreat stuff.  Repeat, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I took some preparatory pictures, mostly of the car as MisterStitches had packed it for us, so we would be able to get everything back into the car for the trip home.  

As you can see, just about every square inch of space was used.  And I'm very glad I took these photos, as they definitely helped us pack the car for the trip home!

Here is a photo of the 24 of us together, just before dinner on the last night.  (I'm actually missing one person, in case you counted, as she had to leave early.  Next year, note to self to take group photo on a night when everyone is there!)

This is one of the projects I worked on at retreat.  Quilting this comfort quilt.  I had found these blocks already sewn, in our guild's fanny basket.  So I put them together, added a couple borders and did the quilting at retreat.

Of course, I forgot to take photos of most of the little personal touches I provided at the retreat, like the pretty ribbon bookmark/paper clips, and the signs labelling each table as "Jan's Creative Space."  They liked those.  And I also had some print-outs placed in various places around the room, and I do have photos some of them.

I usually have some optional projects for people to work on at retreat, if they feel like it.  The first one was this apron made out of a man's shirt.  Some of the people made these.

And this is a quick quilt-as-you-go table runner. 

More Later!!!