Monday, September 30, 2013

English Paper Piecing & Oakshott Cotton Fabrics

I have yet to find a good way to reduce my list of creative projects so I say, "Go fly a kite," to the list and embark on something small, portable, and too fun to resist.

When we made the baby quilt recently, I had a lot of the 2" hexagon papers hanging around asking me to let them come out and play again.  The paper templates were from the Paper Pieces company. 

2" size means one of the hex sides is 2 inches in length.  This is a little confusing.  The piece actually measures 3.5" or 4" across depending on if you measure it flat side to flat side, or point to point.

By taking an Oakshott cotton 5" charm pack (fabric created BY HAND, on looms!!), it worked well with the 2" paper size with very little excess fabric to cut off.

I may look at PIQF to see if the Pinwheels booth has another pack or two of these so I can expand the size of the quilt.  In its current state (around 100 pieces), I think the finished size would be too small to even cover your lap.

PIQF is a very nice quilt show, if you are in California in won't want to miss it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Creative Queue

Do you have a creative queue of some sort?

I have a long running list of projects that I want to work on, with a priority/interest order that shifts with my mood, time, and my ability to concentrate.

I find this queue of creative endeavors to be unfortunately mostly managed on post-it notes stuck to my phone, my desk, and at times (dark times) my pants.

Do you have tips on how to manage your creative projects, how to list them all down, how to organize, prioritize, and keep them all in your thoughts to someday be at last completed?

If you have good ideas on how to do this, pleeeeeease, pretty please share them with me.  I'm all ears.

Until that happy day, here are a few things I'm kicking around...not really in priority order yet (I need help, obviously!).

  • Wrist Warmers (above) out of Lollipop Yarn, colorway Life Is Beautiful
  • Basket Quilt: applique handles down, baste it and quilt it (small, so will go quickly!)
  • Owl embroidery project from kiriki - starting it as soon as my new embroidery hoop arrives, apologies in advance to the owl, your destiny is probably to become a pincushion!
  • Sweater for my 8 yr old
  • Socks for my mom 
  • Wedding Signature Quilt: for goodness sake it's been almost 10 years, this awesome quilt deserves better
  • Birthday Signature Blocks: you have seen me working on these for ages, time to pre-applique down all the numbers for my kids and nieces

    That's the short list, I swear!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Taupe Baby Quilt: More Photos

By popular demand....I'm adding a few more of my fav in progress photos of the baby quilt. 

Our little group of ladies had a huge blast working on it.


piecing in progress

quilting in progress
 Blocking in progress


label close up
done and all ready for the new bundle of joy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baby Quilt: Japanese Taupe Fabrics & English Paper Piecing

Oh how I have wanted to share some photos of the secret baby quilt project with you!

This quilt was started by our small quilt group much earlier this year for one of our members, So Sue, to celebrate the arrival of her new baby daughter.

I have photographed this quilt so many many times.  I want to go through some of the favorite photos and share perhaps more of them with you.

We finally gave the quilt to the bouncing baby, and I think she likes it.  Her mommy really does, so that's a good sign.

The majority of the quilt was hand pieced using the English Paper Piecing method, since we were using hexagons.  Small hearts fit well in the border, and those were done with hand applique.

More photos soon.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Guide To Quilting and Knitting in Toronto Canada: The Amazing, The Very Nice, and The Elusive

After spending a couple of brief hours exploring the city of Toronto last weekend, I fell in love with the city.

It's one of those places that I have been to several times, but never really got to experience.  I'm sure you can imagine there is a difference between these two things.

My exploration time was very limited, but I learned a lot and can provide some thoughts on what to put on your short list should you find yourself in the beautiful city of Toronto.

1.  The Amazing: A clear stand out

The Workroom:

It's not easy to pick a favorite, and I'm very biased to my own personal taste, but if you can only visit one shop in Toronto it has to be The Workroom.

The shop was teaming with busy quilters taking a double wedding ring class.  I was impressed off the bat with such a difficult quilt pattern and so many eager quilters getting down to business.

They have a policy that they will cut any fabric in the shop in a fat quarter for you (including Liberty of London!) so I picked up a couple of fat quarters.  Their Liberty selection is not huge, but the bolts they do have are beautiful.  They have a really nice selection of Japanese Daiwabo taupe fabrics which are not generally easy to find.  Although I have a zillion taupe fabrics already I had to get just a couple more small pieces.

The collection of mini scissors is also to die for.  They are tiny,  friendly for air travel, and come in all different styles.  Just adorable. 

I have long wanted to get my hands on some sparkle floss from Japan, and could not find it when I was there on my last trip.  Not to worry, The Workroom carries it!!

They have an impressive collection of Canadian-made items including patters by Victory Patterns and Wiksten, and a hand screen printed stuffed animal/embroidery kits by kiriki.

The only bad part about The Workroom was having to leave it!  I am already wondering when my next trip will be.  Some additional photos below.  Please do not miss this incredible, beautiful, and friendly shop!

Note the top image is a photo of the vast fat quarter collection they have for you to choose from. 

I met the lovely Workroom owner, Karyn.  I'm on the left, she's on the right.
A view of the bolts of fabric.

Liberty of London fabrics on the left

One the the book shelf areas - Japanese quilting and embroidery books, Daiwabo fabrics

2.  The Very Nice:  Other shops you won't want to miss

The Knit Cafe:

The Knit Cafe was certainly the most friendly of the knitting shops had the pleasure of visiting.  Some locals were there knitting away and the yarn selection was stellar.

They had more Madelintosh yarn than I have ever seen in one place.  My LYS sells out of it almost immediately upon arrival.  I was standing in front of it all wishing I had more space in my bag.

I ended up purchasing a sock yarn ball from a local dyer, Hand Maiden in a green colorway called Casbah.

I met Kristin who is very passionate about yarn and celebrating her 10th year as the owner of The Knit Cafe.  I'm on the right, Kristin is on the left.

Lettuce Knit:Another nice stop was knitting shop Lettuce Knit

I would rate their weekend parking situation as almost impossible; however, their yarn selection excellent.  There were more Canadian brands here than I had ever seen.  The shop itself is not huge, but it very full and well organized.

I picked up some beautiful hand made ceramic buttons and a ball of self stripe yarn by Canadian dyer Rain City Knits in a blue and orange colorway.

3.  The Elusive:  If you can get into these places, you're slicker than I am

Finery Hand KnittingI was interested in this shop after reading about it on Yelp, but I wandered around the mall that it was supposed to be in and I never did find it.  A lot of the signs were in Chinese so I was a little hard pressed to figure it out.  Bummer, it might have been cool

Americo Original
It would have been fun to visit this shop too, but although they were supposed to be open on Saturdays, they were closed with a sign that said they would not be in that day.  I had to drown my sorrow by walking into a bead shop two doors to the right of it called Bling Bling.  That was actually a cool find.  Sorry Americo...I missed you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jersey Gored Skirt: Alabama Chanin Pattern

A quick photo for you of the simple skirt I made.  I'm no seamstress mind you, I'm really just a wandering quilter looking for another hand applique outlet.

It's from the Alabama Chanin Gored Skirt pattern in the book called Alabama Studio Style, p101.

When the skirt is dirty, I find myself willing to do laundry just to get to this garment again.  I'm thinking a 2nd one is in my future.

The instructions in the book is to do everything by hand.

I wanted to follow the instructions, but you know...I've never been one to follow the rules.

The important part of sewing jersey on a machine is to get yourself a jersey-friendly ball-tip needle for your machine.  I did that for less that $4 on Amazon.

It worked well, and I used pins when putting the seams together.

The top layer of the garment is black and the bottom layer is a dark charcoal.  I didn't actually have 4 yards of any fabric, so that is why I ended up with 2 colors.  It didn't matter much since it was an experiment anyhow and I was really just making it to see if it would fit.

After it was finished, I put an elastic waistband in using fold over elastic I got from the Alabama Chanin web site.  I also used the felled seam technique, hand sewing to have the excess seam fabric lay flat.  I was not sure if this was a good idea initially but I LOVE the look and will be doing this on all my jersey seams from now on.

I'm thinking of making a more complex project soon.  Something similar to the skirt made by Bowersette of the From These Hands blog, perhaps. 

Until I get more than 5 minutes to rub together, it looks like I'll be washing (and re-washing!) this skirt.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Naturally Died Yarn: Indigo Targhee & Golding Spindle

When you decide to spin your own yarn, it is usually for several reasons.

Those of you who don't spin are perhaps thinking the reason you do it is because you are nuts.  Well...not exactly.

The types of dyes used on large scale production yarn are mostly acid dyes and have a distinct pallet that can be at times a little 'in your face' for my taste.

If you get fiber that is dyed from natural dyes the colors are more muted, maybe a little easier to wear with your regular clothes.

Another reason to make your own yarn is to choose the breed of the sheep that the wool is from.  This fiber is from a sheep breed called Targhee and their wool is what I consider the cotton candy of wool.  Lofty, airy, like a cloud.  It spins up to a non-itchy yet well wearing yarn.

I am only spinning up a couple ounces of this fiber (maybe I should have gotten more?).  Due to the limited bit that I have of it, I decided to put it on my Golding ring spindle. I'm getting it mostly spun up at bath time while the kids are soaking in the tub, I stand next to them and spin away. 

Colorway is called Indigo Blue Sky, fiber dyed by A Verb For Keeping Warm.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In Search Of Alabama Chanin: a visit to Verb and Heath Ceramics

A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland, California recently had a trunk show where we went to try on the various different garments and consider what our next sewing projects would be.

There were a lot of beautiful garments there as well as sample fabrics in different colors with different treatments on them either with or without beads.

It took some time for use to check them all out.  Good that my kids are so fascinated by the ping pong balls they have at the shop, and good that the shop is so kid-friendly.

I think the only person who was really bored silly was my DH, but he did some web surfing on his phone so he survived and smiled at me with that smile that says he's glad I'm having so much fun.

Some additional photos for your enjoyment below.  I have not started a huge Alabama Chanin garment project, but I would like to soon before the weather gets too cool for the air brush paint to dry quickly.  I think warm weather really is best for the painting work. 

Enjoy the bonus images, captions are below the related photo.

One of the sample fabrics with black beads on it.  So many beads, very beautiful.

Another sample fabric with both beads and reverse applique.  These beads were brown on dark grey fabric and looked pretty.
Another sample fabric with reverse applique and knots on top.  You can see the beautiful shop in the background.
This is my charming friend Marianne modeling some of the sample garments.  She is even more sweet and lovely than she is beautiful.  Always more fun to shop with a good friend.

 Here is another sample fabric with embroidery and beads.  White on white.  Stunning.
Another sample piece.  It had both embroidery and beads.  LOTS of beads!
 This is my DH.  See the smile?  I know I'm biased but I find him so hunky-handsome sitting in a quilting/knitting shop. He may be thinking he'd rather had his teeth cleaned.
 Another sample fabric with beads, reverse applique and embroidery.  This was one of the more complex pieces.
Sample fabric with reverse applique and heavy clusters of beads inside of the cut out applique.
 On a different trip we visited Heath Ceramics in San Francisco.  This is an Alabama Chanin flag that was hanging there.  So very stunning.  All shades of blue.  Out of this world beautiful.  Lots of hand work, reverse applique.
This is another piece that was at Heath.  Sampler quilt with many different treatments including some beads.  Beautiful and also for sale!
A photo of the Alabama Chanin plates at Heath along with the books that I have and highly recommend.  I would love to have a set of these plates.  They are hand etched, so more costly than the other Heath plates.  Time to save up your lunch money.