Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Fabulous fabric

I know I said I would not receive any more “surprise” packages in the mail, because I would try not to buy more fabric for a while, but this was a surprise without the “s.

I received these fabulous Christmas fabrics from Annika Pettersson, the editor of Fat Quarter, the Swedish quilting magazine, as a thank you for a pattern that will be published in November. I rarely buy Christmas fabric, so this was an extra nice surprise. I love the larger scale fabrics and the pink flowers.

I have been looking through my stash for fabric (matching/ coordinating/ contrasting) to add to the mix, as perfectly matched fabric and I don’t play very nicely together. Somehow my brain doesn’t work that well creatively if the work is already cut out for me.

So, got fabric; have to decide what to make of it; probably something simple to show off the fabulousness of the fabric; oh, too many ideas…

Monday, 28 September 2009

Binding by the mile

I have attached (what feels like) miles and miles of binding this last week, trying to get some of the quilts that needs finishing done. Now I have something to keep my hands busy watching TV for the next few months or so; well, besides blogging and eating double 0 (fat free, sugar free) yoghurt for supper, you know.

Making binding is not my favourite part of quilting, so I make a few extra yards when I’m already cutting and ironing some anyway (tutorial here). Running another yard or two or five through the bias tape maker does not take that long when you’re already ironing, but the benefit is great.

I now have a Big Bag of Binding full of different coloured binding to choose from, most of them ready to use. Some are long enough to bind a large quilt; others are just scraps that I at some point will piece together for smaller or scrappy quilts. Lots of fabrics I don’t really like that much (great for binding though) also make it into my bag together with leftover 1 1/2 “ strips.

It’s kind of having an extra bank account; time is money, isn’t it?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

35 years & a food mixer

35 years ago I got my left hand into a food mixer at school; don’t ask me how; the mixer started before it should, and it took the teacher 45 minutes to get the hand out. Anyway, this spring a bone fragment that was undiscovered all those years ago, started acting up and pinching a nerve or something. The x-rays showed that it’s jammed into a joint somewhere between my index- and middle finger. I can’t say getting the hand into the mixer was a pleasure, but it surely hurt this summer as well. I got to use these very cool finger straps for weeks, but the hand was still pretty much unusable. Well, I could use the thumb, but it still was kind of depressing.

What I usually do when I’m down? I quilt.

Now, I could not use a ruler and cutter, and precision piecing was out of the question anyway, so I got some yarns to play with instead. You’ve got to do something, right? I set some rules for myself: I would not unpick anything, just add to the pieces (I find that keeping some experiments that do not turn out so great, reminds me what not to do). I prepared some foundations - small sandwiches with scraps of batting basted together with scraps of fabric. After the yarn was in place, I added some fine tulle, and used free motion quilting to keep everything in place.


These yarns are incredible. Each skein is made from lots of different strands of yarns in different shades and textures, just knotted together. The first two test pieces were made from these yarns.


The very first; I tried making a binding from one of the yarns; not very successful though, but hey, no unpicking

This one actually turned out great


I got some more yarn, and added some scraps of fabric

These pieces are missing something; maybe some beads?
(Seriously, what's wrong with my camera??)

Now that I finally have two working hands, the quilts have been finished, bindings and all. That’s 4 UFOs done, although they were not on my list.

UFO numero uno

The first UFO on the list, “Snowstorm”, is done! The satin binding was a bit slippery to sew to the back, but it turned out OK. Now I’ll have to check what the numbers 2-5 are in Italian, and why my new camera insists on making my perfectly square quilts look bulgy…

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Key factor

Now, anybody can tell you there are some key factors to success. What they don’t tell you is that you also need a lock that works. Any key is useless otherwise!


Yesterday the lock on our bathroom door got jammed, with daughter on the inside of the door. I was sitting peacefully in the living room, finally catching up on my bindings, when I heard this thumping sound. Hmmmm? I found the source when she started calling for help. Now, I am of the liberated, self sufficient generation of women who are used to do almost everything themselves, so I did not panic. I got my tool kit, picked a screwdriver and ran around the house to climb in to help her. Wait a minute! It might be a bad idea both of us getting stuck in there. Maybe it’s better to give it to daughter through the window, and do this sort of by remote control? Great idea, wrong screwdriver. Back inside. It was raining heavily, so I had to take off and put on shoes and a rain jacket every time I went inside or outside. Again and again and again.

We finally got the thingie that is outside the key hole off, and I could see where the lock was jammed. Well, in my world, sewing machine oil is good for things that are stuck, so the lock got oiled but it still would not budge. There was no way we could get the door open or off the hinges, so we had to get her out through the window. Well, that was fun! The bathroom is fortunately on the ground level, but still around 7’ up on the wall on the outside. We have triple glazed windows in our house so they are heavvvvy! Thank goodness I have been working out; otherwise I would not have been able to hold it up the long time it took her to climb out. Luckily she is on the slender side!

Waiting for a locksmith to call me back, my knight in shining armour (AKA husband) came home to try to fix the lock. Getting him inside through the bathroom window, was however not an easy task. He’s 6’ 7” and not so much on the slender side. With the help from my fabulous toned arms holding the window (again), he finally made it inside, turned the key, and opened the door…

Seems like the oil did its job after all; it just took some time. We now have a new lock on our bathroom door.

Monday, 21 September 2009

UFO challenge

I joined my very first cyber space UFO challenge over at Finn’s at Pieces from my scrap bag yesterday. I have signed up for 5 finished UFOs by New Year's Eve. I’m not quite sure how it all works yet, but I guess I’ll figure it out.

The projects I’m going to finish are not the ones I had in my mind yesterday. Rummaging through my sewing space, and doing some tidying at the same time, I discovered some long forgotten UFOs. The one I really did want to finish for a charity my guild is supporting, was nowhere to be found.


These UFOs made my list:

Lots of little yellow ones
Except for Christmas cards, I hardly ever make 2 quilts from the same deign. I was teaching a mystery workshop last March, and designed these little chicken (or duckling if you like, I don’t mind) table runners.
I had so much fun playing with the triangles, that I made 3 different versions. I finished 2 of them for the workshop, and had the 3rd partly made for demonstration. The last top got finished; it just needs a little quilting, maybe some appliqué, and a binding.
It was our guild’s first mystery workshop, and so much fun, even though many found choosing fabrics from just my guidelines and examples was challenging.

You can get a pattern here, and have a look at Rita at Ritas lille verden’s fabric choices, workshop report, and fabulous finished quilt.


Warhol Angels
I inked a stack of 24 angel blocks last fall. I was going to use them for Christmas cards, but loved them so much, that I kept them. I apparently did not love them so much that I finished a quilt, but there will be Christmas this year too. Somewhere there is a sketch with a brilliant idea how to put them together with sashings and stuff…


Snowstorm
This was a quilting test piece which I intended for an appliqué background. I have changed my mind though. Inspired by Marit at Quilt it's Snow white quilt, which she uses as a back drop when photographing small quilts, I’ll just put a white satin binding on it, and use it as a background for photographs.


The grief quilt
This was supposed to my grief quilt when I started it the summer of 2008. While I was working, the quilt turned out much happier that I expected, and so did I. I love quilting therapy; the outcome never stop surprising me.
I used the appliquéd shape for some lovely little quilts with my favourite saying. I’ll post a picture and pattern later; I have to go to one of the recipients to get a proper picture.


My innermost space
My first and last paper piecing experiment which I found incredible boring after a while. I really like the design though, so I do want to finish it. Maybe if I break the rest of the piecing down to one round per day, it won’t be so tedious.


Squares
These squares are from charm packs I got years back. I cut them to size, and made 7 columns with 19 squares in each. I think I’ll cut the columns in half, and just sew them together. There are lots of wonderful fabrics, so it would make a nice charity quilt.

Oh, was that 6? Well, I want them all done…

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Blogging

I’m really enjoying this whole blogging experience! I find that it inspires me in so many ways, both through blogging about my own life and work, and through all the nice new people I have met out here.

I bought both of Diane from Craftypod
's ebooks, Making a Great Blog and Creating a Blog Audience to get some advice on how to approach this blogging thing. Diane has both a wonderful blog and a great podcast, so I was positive she would have some great insights, and so she did. She even gave me feedback on my blog and some really helpful advice on how to create links after I emailed her to say thanks for her great work.

You can download the Craftypod podcast through Craftypod
, or through iTunes (which you can download here).

Got to go now; have to create links in all my old posts!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Big & Smiling

Today I got my quilting mojo back! I finally got started on the workshop quilts, and (drum roll) I enjoyed it. I put my favourite sewing movie, Pride and prejudice (the BBC version with Colin Firth, yummy) which I have not seen (or heard) for a while, on. Sewing movies functions more like books on tape, and I have seen them all so many times, that I don’t need to pay much attention.
When I left my sewing room I made sure the machine was threaded with the next colour in line and the quilt right next to it, so I’m all set up to go next time I have a few hours.

Then, when I was all tense and achy after quilting, I had a great workout in the hot water pool. We worked a lot on the arms; very appropriate for quilters like me who need more strength. Now I am all relaxed and tired and happy and waiting for husband to bring home dinnerJ I can’t believe I forgot how much I love exercising…

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Wet wool

My house smells of wet wool today. I finally got my needlepoint pieces out of their dark and lonesome place; I can’t believe it’s more than 11 years since I made them. The good news is that I still really love them. They are all made the same way: I got lots of wool needlepoint yarn from a remnant bin, drew an outline on a piece of paper, then onto the background, and did the rest by ear (or eye in this case) as the piece progressed.

They were all square when I put them away, but have been somewhat distorted during the long wait. The board I used for blocking them is long gone, so I have tried to press and stretch and press and stretch (hence the wet wool smell). It did not work very well, so I have to figure out another way to make them square again.



This piece was so much fun to make!
If I'm not mistaken, this was my first needlepoint piece, and I got the flower from one of Kaffe Fassett's books.
This was a design made by daughter when she was around 10. I tried to match the colours to her drawing.
This is the last piece I finished, with lots of leftover yarn. I still have a WIP in our cabin.

I had an idea that I could use the Mickey Mouse piece for a handbag. Apparently I had forgotten how big they all are; 16”*16” (I made pillows for my whole family and then some). I don’t really want to lose any of the embroidery, so I’ll have to add fabric to the bottom. Maybe they are more suitable for totes, but I really want my Mickey Mouse bag.

Do any of you have any suggestions??


I also found some knitting I did a while back when I just wanted to knit something and these yarns were just laying around the house doing nothing. They are just plain tubes that I intended to cut and sew into bags when felted. Today I threw them into the washing machine, and they turned out great. They are now drying in my dining room and add quite a bit to the wet wool smell. It’s my first intentional felting experience, and I’m looking forward to work with them. I love the texture!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

My first quilt

The theme for show & tell at our guild meeting today is “My first quilt”, so I have dug mine out (with a lot of other stuff that I’ll get back to later).

I did a lot of needlepoint before I started quilting. My needlepoint was kind of like my quilting; I drew a design on a piece of paper, transferred it to the background and went to work armed with lots of different colours of yarn.

Then daughter got sick and we spent weeks and weeks at the hospital. Having a portable hobby made a huge difference in the vacuum that is hospital life. During a little break on a rainy Thursday afternoon, I bought a book about antique American quilts for inspiration. Browsing through it my daughter said “Oh, I would love one of those”, so I started quilting.

Unaware that there was such a thing like quilting fabric I went to IKEA and got lots of striped (rather heavy weight) cotton fabrics. I read through the very short helpful hints in the back of the book, and also got some cutting tools. A couple of weeks later daughter got her quilt for Christmas. It has been much loved and used and washed, it's soft and cuddly, and the colours are still bright. It’s a great quilt.
I learned a lot from this quilt:
1. When you cut pieces for a quilt:, don’t mix inch and centimetre rulers. I did not quite like my first ruler, so I got another one. It looked alike to me, but was not. I discovered this when I started sewing all the pieces together.

2. A piece of paper with snippets of fabric glued to it, does not make a great design wall.

3. Heavy weight fabrics make a heavy quilt.

4. Heavy weight backing makes a heavier quilt.

5. Cotton batting makes an even heavier quilt. I could probably put “moving around under the quilt” on my exercise program.

6. When the instruction for quilting in the ditch says “start quilting in the middle”, this does not mean in the middle of the quilt. You should really start on the edge every time.

7. I love quilting.


Here are some details of my matching points and creative quilting in the ditch.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Big & Stressed

It’s the start of week 3 of the program, and the exercising is great. I even take long walks voluntary just to make sure I do enough. Fitting all this extra time into my everyday life is however a bit stressful. The program itself takes about 8 hours a week with transportation and all, then there’s planning the meals, which I by the way is not that good at. All the information about what’s not good for me makes me pretty much terrified of eating almost anything, and the 6 meals a day are a challenge!

What’s probably most stressing me these days is all the quilting I should have done. I have this problem, you see, I often lose interest in a project when I see how it turned out. That’s why I never use patterns. All the models for my workshop – I love them, but I’m kind of done with them. And I need at least 5 of them finished. Soon!

What I really want to do is dig out one of my old needlepoint pieces and use it for a project. After Kaffe Fassett’s lecture (which was wonderful and ever so charming!), I was even more eager. Maybe I should treat myself to a little creative playtime before I attack the pile of workshop-tops…

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Kick start fabric

I’m going to demonstrate one way to choose fabric for a quilt, using a kick start fabric, at a guild meeting. As an example I’ll use this quilt


It’s called Mrs Bouquet; inspired by Hyacinth Bucket in “Keeping up appearances” (a British TV comedy). The flower fabric (curtains & tablecloth from a thrift shop) was the starting point from which I picked lots and lots of scraps in greens, pinks, tans, browns and yellows to (sort of) match. I of course had to throw in some Royal Doulton with hand painted periwinkles, a hand bag, a hat, a telephone and a bucket to honour the spirit of Mrs Bucket.

The idea is that if you start with a multicoloured fabric that you like, and use this as a colour guide when you choose fabrics for a quilt, the fabrics will look good together, even if you take away the initial fabric. The important thing is to choose a variety of values, from light to dark.



Click here for instructions on how to use a kick start fabric

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Kaffe Fassett

Tomorrow I’ll be attending a lecture with Kaffe Fassett. He’s teaching a workshop on Saturday, which I’ll unfortunately miss. However, I was so fortunate to attend one of his and Brandon Mably’s workshops 6 years ago, and it was great! I had to travel through half the country to get there, but it was well worth the time and money (I have only attended 3 quilting workshops/classes ever, so…).

I have been a fan of his work way before neither he (as far as I know) nor I was quilting, so I have lots of his knitting, needlepoint and inspiration books. Even though my home is predominantly different shades of grey (except of my art, pillows and quilts of course), I love his warm and wonderful mix of colours and patterns.
This is the quilt I started in the workshop (oops, just a little bit windy outside today). We designed one quarter on pieces of flannel, pinned all the pieces down, and took it home to finish the rest of the quilt and sew it all together. My quilt was supposed to be red, but, well, it’s orange. It’s called “Autumn evening with Kaffe” (Kaffe means coffee in Norwegian).

The blue rows were Kaffe and Brandon’s idea, and make all the warm, rich colours really pop.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Have you met Deelybob yet?

This is a notion that I use all the time. I love to use machine embroidery thread for quilting (gives an extra spark and shine), but they often come in large cones that do not fit my spool holder. I searched on the Internet and found the Deelybob. Mine is called Deelybob II Thread Cone Adaptor. It goes on the upright spool holder, fits all sizes of cones, and works like a charm; no twisting or jumping, just smoothly turning round and round.

You’ll find the Deelybob here.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Workshop

Our guild, Rogaland Quiltelag, celebrates their 20th year anniversary in November. I’ll be teaching a Christmas workshop, and here are my WIPs for the workshop. Most are just fused for now, but I finally got started quilting this week (hence all the threads on the cats)…

Town


Country

Santa

Santa's cats

Snowman

Angel

We’ll be making table runners, pillows, wall hangings, advent calendars and wall hangings for showcasing Christmas post (what we know as “julepost”) from these appliqué designs.

Patterns for all the projects will be available in a few weeks.

Welcome home, honey!

After more than 3 years my quilt has returned home. It has been a part of the European Quilt Association’s Suitcase (well, more like a cardboard box) exhibition “Hot & Cold”, and has travelled through Europe for 3 years. It was the first quilt I ever sent out in the world, and it’s so nice to have it back.

The challenge from the 17 national quilt associations (that make up EQA) to their members was: Make a quilt 60*60cm with the theme Hot & Cold.
All the quilts were shown together at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England August 2006, and then distributed (one quilt from each country) in 17 suitcases, one to each country, and then swapped once a year.

A file has accompanied each quilt where all the places it has been shown have been noted, even with some nice comments from some countries. My quilt has travelled the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Denmark. It even von two prizes at exhibitions: a judged competition in Scotland, and a visitor’s choice in England. I feel like a proud mother!


Some quilts are not easy to make though…

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Big & Sore

2/3 into the first week of the program:
I have muscles! I have muscles I don’t even have a slightest recollection of ever being there before! Why I know? Oh, I can feel them!
But anyway; so far, so good; the people are really nice, and it feels good (exhausting, but nevertheless well) just to have started. The best thing is that we are in this thing together, each with our own challenges and goals. I’ll have to admit that I had to tell myself “this is as bad as it’s going to get” a couple of times our first time in the gym, but it felt great afterwards. I would have preferred to take a nap when I came home, but grandson kept me up and running until I finally could put both him and myself to bed. I bet spending a few hours with him has as good impact on my health and blood sugar level as any other kind of exercise!


Yesterday I went to pick him up from day-care in my very flattering (!) exercise outfit, and loved to say “oh, I have just been working out”! I met with my wonderful, small (AKA The Nameless; well, that’s my name, the other 7 have their own names for it as we have not been able to come up with a real name) quilting group in the afternoon, and I had to get up from the chair more than ever to walk around and stretch my back, but I understand that’s good for you anyway.
And at last: good tidings from the doctor this morning! I don’t have to start testing my blood sugar level myself yet, he thinks it is very likely that I‘ll get the diabetes under control through the Big & Strong program. Taking control does feel good!!