Monday, August 10, 2015

In which my life going not fast enough down the drain actually tips over into a screwball comdey

Things have been, well, in a word: damp.  We have been chasing roof leaks & plumbing leaks, rain (sorry California-if I could send it along I would) & flood washing under the doors.  Seriously, it rains so hard so fast that the very well functioning drainage cannot handle it.  An oak tree came down last week under the force of water.  It was not struck by lightening it just got pounded over.

All of these adventures have had side stories & upshots.  If I tried to put them all in one post it would be a novella.  So I thought I would give you the latest, or rather what was the latest when I started typing this yesterday afternoon.  It has been a long summer.

Because of the plumbing, we had to day board the big dogs (the down side of an open plan home is it's wide-openness) & I don't know if you know but I DID, I just forgot:  kennel cough vaccines only last six months or so.  You can probably guess the rest; a week later our boy  was coughing his out. The phlegm was SO BAD I went into the utility closet for the swiffer wetjet (uncompensated endorsement, I love that thing) even though it was not raining.  & no one had been outside to track anything in anyhow.  That's it for that part of the story.  There is more dog-hacks-up-a-lung material, but I will save it.

The next day it rained.  Again.  I went back into same closet, got that same wetjet, reached for the same box of clean pads & came away with a sloughed off snake skin in my hand (miniature dachshund for scale). A Snake Skin clinging to the box I handled the day before.  Until that moment I did not know it was possible to laugh & gag at the same time.

We cleaned the closet, no more signs of the snake but we are pretty sure we know how it got in.  & will likely get in again as there is only so much we can do to keep it out if indeed, it ever left.  It might be hiding.  In the walls.  At least our mouse problem is solved (OH! I didn't mention the mice populaiton explosion the month after we got the new roof?  A story for another day).

Last night I rolled over in my sleep & A had his hand flung across the top of my pillow.  This is not usually something I find alarming, but in the dark, in my sleep, those fingers weaving through my hair, over my head...  I am definitely taking a nap today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

June is MAKING me crackers!

So the June 2015 block went up....earlier.  & since day one it has been making me, well crackers.  The image(s) seem to have some underlying flub that causes (some of) them to be interpreted as code & this does not translate well with Blogger & whatever you use to view this blog.  I have reloaded & resized & I am so sick of it I could spit & I still cannot get rid of the "bad spot".  So I am starting again.  Nothing has changed, deadlines are deadlines (I know several people have already started anyhow) & at least the directions were always in a separate link. 

Here goes:

I took some extra time getting the next Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group block posted & then ended up taking more (sorry!).  There were some problems that I don't really want to go into again (they remain in the original post if you are curious) but the upshot is I need to know if (any remaining part of) the problem is with my directions or if this is going to happen not matter what soooooo this time we are using direction already out there, tied & true for both JUNE & AUGUST.  Yes, I did write the August block directions but that was a long time ago & no one seemed to have a problem at the time so I am calling them tried & true as well.

For June we are making the tradition cracker lock which can be found here:

We are using the provided measurements & assembly techniques.  I am NOT providing my own how-I-made-it directions; please use the directions in the  Cracker Quilt Pattern by Janet Wickell on the quilting.about site & do a read thru & then come back here.  For our swap we are working in light versus dark & you should use two (2) fabrics.

  1. One of our fabrics should be either a solid light or a solid dark.  In my original post I said read-as-solid & if you have already started & are confident you know what "read as solid" means you can still do so BUT given the tenor of messages I have gotten re: the June block, there are still people who aren't sure their fabric actually reads-as-solid.  My advice is don't use it; instead stick with solid-solid.

    So one fabric is either a solid dark OR a solid light.  I mean true darks & lights not something that is darker or lighter than whatever it is paired with. 
  2. The second fabric should be either lighter than the dark you used OR darker than the liht you sued & it can be anything at all.  Floral? Yep. Large scale floral? No problem.  Large scale floral overlaying a psychedelic plaid? as long as it is either darker or lighter than your light or dark solid, it is just fine.
In my example, I used a bleached muslin & a dark, small scale floral.   It would not have mattered, but I used the floral to outline the cracker & the bleached muslin for the center; you can use either of your two fabrics in either place.  So, two fabrics one dark/one light, one solid/one anything you want to use up (maybe even another solid).

& that is pretty much it.  Blocks are due in-house the last Saturday in June, June 27, 2015.  think about making a "practice block" as the direction are very specific & accuracy (in cutting, in sewing) matters for this block. 

We swap in sets of five (5) blocks. If you make more than two sets, please be sure to vary your fabrics; please do not send more than two identical sets of blocks.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2015: Blue & yellow 9-patch tiles

What can I say about this quilt that isn't more than a little bit embarrassing?  I guess I will just jump in:  In February 2009 the Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group...did not exist.  It was still a mailing list in those days.  & our swap block that month was 6.5" unfinished/6" finished equal-parts 9-patch of any kind limited to (mostly) blue & yellow fabrics.

What surprised me most was the variety of 9-patches we got!  These are nine of them, set on point (first framed in a plain bleached muslin border to make them a uniform size) & then sashed in blue & yellow strips I had kicking around.  What could be easier, right?

Unfortunately this top was finished sometime in ?2010? & then sat until almost the end of April 2015 before it was basted & quilted.  It would have sat longer but in a fit of I-don't-know-what-I-was-thinking, I entered it in a quilt show.  Not yet quilted.  Because I am like that.  I basted it not having the faintest idea how I was going to quilt it (I mean I knew HOW, I was going to use my Bernina & cotton thread but the pattern was up in the air).

After it was basted & rolled (I more or less always knew I would begin corner to corner), I settled on a square flags sort of thing.  I could tell you it was inspired by Buddhist prayer flags (which it could be) but really, I was also cleaning some old house stuff files & found Corian samples from when we redid our kitchen.  I started playing with them.  Truly, playing.  Mostly I was making clicking noises with them.  The quilt just happened to be on the table; yes, I have the world's shortest attention span. 
After it was all done, I recognized the Corian sample was the same square dimension as a single unit of the patch of the 9-patches:  2 inches more or less.  This is probably why the shape & size of those squares looked "right".  Also, they make a cool mahjong tile clicking sound.  But if anyone asks I am going with Buddhist prayer flags from now on.

I quilted it in a variegated very pale blue & white cotton thread.  The thread is so pale I was surprised how much the stitching does show in the pale blue border sashing scraps.  because I was quilting when I could find the time, it all got done rather piecemeal. Sooooo.  The corner to corner nature of things got twisted around as I lost my place & those Buddhist prayer flags are just blowing every which way.  

The quilt went to the every-two-years quilt show held by the Tree City Quilt Guild in Gainesville, FL & then came home a week ago Sunday.  It was hanging on the wall during bookclub earlier this week & M****** saw it for the first time & immediately recognized the blue sashing strip as scraps from a blue & white quilt currently on her couch.  This quilt was more collaborative than I even realized!

This quilt is 50" x 50" ; it is actually square!  It was made from all cotton fabrics as far as I know & 100% batting- of this I am certain.  It was quilted with a cotton thread which is probably a factor in why the stitching is very visible, even on the same shade of pale blue fabric.  I am entering it in the Home Machine Quilted category at the Blogger's Quilt Festival for Spring 2015. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What we are reading in 2015-2016

Last year we swung the schedule around a little bit.  We still meet the second Tuesday, nine months of the ear (no July, no August & no December), but we choose the next books the month before the last month before the two months we don't meet.  Easy, right?

Anyway, this is what's up:

October 2015: Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

November 2015: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey

January 2016: The Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry selected etc. by Louis Untermeyer

February 2016: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

March 2016: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

April 2016: Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

May 2016: Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith

June 2016: Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

September 2016: Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson

We aim for a mix of classics/contemporary, fiction/non-fiction, long/short/in-between & I hope for a wildcard: a play, poetry, a graphic novel.  Not every year hits every note, but every year has variety which is the goal. 

We still have June & September of the current year to wrap up.  & I have updated the Goodreads Kitchen Table Book Club shelf to reflect everything we have read in the past -wow! that many!- years. 

Marybeth's bookshelf: kitchen-table-book-club

A Dirty Job
5 of 5 stars
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club
The Egyptologist
5 of 5 stars
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club
Pink Slip
5 of 5 stars
Maybe it was growing up in CT, the same time as the narrator, knowing Choo-choo & Railroad Salvage, remembering when AIDS wasn't even called AIDS yet, but I just fell into this book.
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club
The Eyre Affair
5 of 5 stars
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club

Friday, May 8, 2015

Garden stones in August

For our August 2015 swap block, the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group is having their first ever flashback block swap.  No worries, though, we are not making the exact same block as we did for June 2009.  That swap was all about using baby fabrics & this time we are using garden fabrics.  Yep, that's the only difference. 

The already written up directions can be found in the original link, but the highlights are you have a choice of making a set of five 9-patch snowballs, five 4-patch snowballs or five one-patch snowballs. The blocks, whichever one you choose, should be 9.5" unfinished/9" finished.  

If you elect to make the one patch snowballs, your single patch should be special.  It should have some piecing or embroidery or broderie perse or applique or something.  You cannot just take one big single 9.5" square of fabric, make the snowball folds at the corners & call yourself done.  This was true in June 2009 as well, which might be why only one person did this.  Because this is a garden themed block, your special feature should be garden themed.  A foundation-pieced flower perhaps.  let me repeat:  this special extra thing is ONLY an issue if you elect to make the one-patch snowball...

Most people made either the 9-patch or the 4-patch.  If you make the 9-patch, you will begin with nine 3.5" squares & four 1.5" squares to cover each corner of each of these 3.5" squares (thirty-six 1.5" squares).  If you make the 4-patch, you will begin with four 5" squares & four 2" squares to cover each corner of these 5" squares (sixteen 2" squares).  All of this is exactly the same as the block we made back then.

Now the differences:
  • this is a garden themed swap so one of the fabrics either the large squares (the snowball itself) or the smaller squares (the background) should be a floral. Or at least garden-y, so vegetable fabrics would also be acceptable.  Or trees.  Or just leaves, even.  Firetrucks on the other  Unless they are covered in vines.  & if you find firetrucks covered in vines fabric. PLEASE post a picture to the group because I am writing this assuming it does not exist.  Wow! I got sidetracked there:  the short version is if your fabric has a visible garden element, it is OKay to use.
  • the second fabric can ALSO be a floral (or whatever-garden), just please not the exact same floral (or whatever-garden). It can also be any solid or read-as-solid or even just mostly one or more of the following "garden" colors:  blue, green or brown.  I am prepared to interpret blue, green or brown very very loosely but please do no use anything that is obviously not predominantly blue, green, or brown. 
  • please limit your block to TWO fabrics.  One fabric should always be the snowball & the other fabric should always be the background.  You can of course mix fabrics across blocks: the fabric that was the snowball in one block can be the back ground in another BUT within the same 9-patch or 4-patch just one background & just one snowball fabric PLEASE.
  • while you are making your blocks, please cut away the extra fabric underneath the corners.  After you have stitched & pressed each component of your block, you will notice you have THREE layers of fabric; if you stitch these together, you will have seams that are SIX layers of fabric thick.  It's too much!  Please cut away that extra corner fabric as you go.

  • once you are all done & your block is pressed, please double check that it does indeed measure 9.5" unfinished/9" finished (so you will be looking for a 9.5" by 9.5" square).

In my two examples, the fabrics sort of blend together  Sorry about that, it is not a requirement.  They can be super high contrast if that is what you want.  I was apparently in a smooooooth sort of mood the day I made these.  As we get closer, I will make more that are crazy-busy, I promise.

These blocks are due IN-HOUSE the last Saturday in August, August 29, 2015.  Blocks will be swapped the following weekend (which is Labor Day weekend so they will likely get in the mail later that week, not Monday).  As always we swap in sets of five: you send five, you get five back.  You can send as many sets of five as you wish but please do not send more than two sets of five (ten blocks total) that are exactly alike. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

June is for crackers

I have been taking some time getting the next Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group block up because we have been....experiencing some difficulties.  I wanted to take that time to go through the problems, see where I was going wrong, maybe identify a problem swapper or two (this is not a blame thing, just an information misfire that happens when particular features when I say "low volume" when describing fabric to people for whom English is maybe a second language...or a third.  Yes, this was a thing).  I think I have plugged some of the larger holes, but it is going to be an ongoing process over the next few swaps. 

Which brings me to our June 2015 block, which is the traditional cracker block with some swap-specific features sort of sprinkled in.  First though, the directions.  They can be found here.  Yes, I do usually recreate even available directions just to have the pictures, but this time I am not going to.  I figured these directions have worked for slews of people before & lets just leave them as is.  So go ahead to the Cracker Quilt Pattern by Janet Wickell on the quilting.about site & do a read thru & then come back here.  Also, there have been a few complaints about my directions so I want to see if this helps.

You will have noticed this link has directions for a whole quilt top.  We will be swapping one component of one block.  In other words just this piece: 

You will need two fabrics for each of your blocks:
  • either a solid or read-as-solid DARK or a solid or read-as-solid LIGHT.  Interpretations of dark versus light & read-as-solid have varied over some of the swaps so I am going to make this suggestion.  If you cannot tell if your fabric is dark, it probably isn't.  Ditto light.  We want true darks (black, dark navy, dark green, dark brown, etc.) for the darks & true lights (white, cream, pale pastels, etc.) for the lights.  You only need one or the other so this really should not be hard to find.  As for the read-as-solid portion all I can suggest is it should be a blender in a uniform color & if that is still too vague (I accept it might be), maybe just use an actual solid.  Bleached muslin will fit the bill nicely, as would a black broadcloth. 

    As I said above, the term read-as-solid has been yet another tripper-upper so I wish I could give a more exact description.  The best I can come up with is a fabric that is patterned but very subtly with a minimum of contrast in color: both shade (light to dark, dark to light) & hue (blueness VS greenness, for example).  If you are looking at a fabric & are not sure if it does read-as-solid, please put it aside.
  • the second fabric is YOUR CHOICE with one guideline:  if your first fabric is a light, please do not use another light.  If you first fabric is a dark, please do not use another dark.  The rest is up to you.  Large bright cartoon characters? Fine.  Pastel florals? Also fine.  Another solid the opposite (light or dark) of your first fabric?  Still fine.  When your block is finished, the lines should be sharp & clear; this is easy to test for by putting on piece of the fabric against the other.  If the edges blur, those fabrics won't work together.
In my example I used a bleached muslin for my solid/read-as-solid light side & a densely patterned floral that is indisputably dark but not read-as-solid for the other side.  You will need enough fabric for one strip to make the on-point center (again, please see block directions in the link) & the two corner triangles that set it on point in one fabric & exactly the same + one more strip of the other.  You will notice I am carefully avoiding giving dimensions here; they are all in the link & they are VERY SPECIFIC. 

Bringing us to another problem we have been plagued with recently.  I usually let blocks that are within <1 1="" 9-patch="" a="" adding="" allowance="" also="" am="" amp="" another="" anyone="" as="" at="" been="" being="" block="" blocks="" but="" can="" cannot-sew-a-straight-line="" cause="" check="" cut="" cuts="" dark="" dimensions="" directed="" doubt="" each="" especially="" fabric="" for="" frequent="" full="" have="" href="" i="" inches="" individual="" into="" is="" issue="" it="" last="" less="" light="" link="" look="" making="" matter="" nbsp="" no="" not="" of="" only="" or="" particular="" picture="" piece="" problem="" pun="" reads="" really="" reason="" recurring="" seam="" should="" size.="" size="" small="" smaller="" solid="" surprisingly="" swap="" swappers="" target="_blank" tell="" than="" that="" the="" there="" they="" this="" three="" time="" to="" too-deep="" too="" unfortunately="" unlike="" up="" urge="" was="" way="" were="" whatever="" when="" whether="" with="" wrong="" you="" your="">metric conversion chart
(you might need to change the INCREMENT field to 1/4) although I feel I should add NONE of the way-off measurements came from metric countries.  NONE of them.  I think the lesson here is that people who know they need to check their measurements are not having an issue, instead people who assume they do not need to are having the issue.  Measure twice, cut once was never more apt. 
These blocks are due in-house the last SAT in June (June 27th).  I will swap the following week-end (because of some delays with the post office) BUT your envelope must be postmarked before the deadline & if you have not received confirmation the envelope arrived by the deadline (SAT June 27th) you need to let me know it is en route.

As always we swap in sets of five, send five get five back (or send twenty-five & get twenty-five back).  If you do make more than two sets of five (or ten blocks), please mix up your fabrics when you get to the third set.  Because this is a not-frequent but not-rare I am going to restate this in a different way:  if you send more than two identical sets you are guaranteed to get some if not all of your own blocks back. 

UPDATE MON May 11, 2015:  it appears that Blogger had a few updates during my hiatus & this post appeared briefly when it should have & has been reappearing & disappearing (mostly depending on which device I used to upload the photo &/or how your device handles the out-of-date photo-format) ever since.  The problem is now resolved (I upgraded my Blogger photo-posting tool anyhow, & it all seems to be working) but this means some people will have less than the preferred two months minimum to work with the block.  Still, everyone should have more than one month & that should be plenty of time. The in-house due date remains that last SATURDAY in JUNE. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A quest for serving spoons

For about a million years now, the morning after bookclub is a breakfast cereal scramble as I try to find one-just-one clean soup spoon so A can have his breakfast.  This is all because every soup spoon that lives here & a few that commute get pressed into service as serving spoons. 

This means that in the week following bookclub I haunt every TJMaxx, every Tuesday Morning, every discount store of every stripe looking for new (more) serving spoons.  There are plenty.  Plenty, plenty.  & given that nothing in my kitchen matches anyhow, you would think it would be easy to pick some up & be done.  But it isn't; the whole problem is drawer space.  Serving spoons are a pain in the...drawers!  Unlike EVERYTHING else which stacks nicely serving spoons, even the matching set spoons, will not permit the drawer to close.  Their bowls are just big enough to catch the edge,.  this means finding a new home for serving spoons, which means I spend fruitless hours searching for serving spoons I will never bring home.

Which brought me to these.   My thinking is that if we use these & not the flatware in the drawer we will have enough sop spoons + one for serving & A's breakfast.  I will let you know how that goes.  Also they have their own built in storage thing & can get pushed to the back of the cabinet for all but the nine evenings a year I actually need them.

My thinking is if we don't need to eat & serve with the soup spoons, there will be one left in the drawer for morning.  I will let you now how it goes. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Not 18 months

Technically not 17 months.  Sadie came as a foster, failed & stayed.  Yesterday, after a week post protein-losing nephropathy semi-diagnosis (we elected not to do the diagnostic surgery) we put her to sleep.  She stopped eating on Tuesday, stopped drinking on Wednesday.  We could have lasted another few days, but they would have been awful days.    So we didn't. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Take my heart in Feb 2015

I realize that a swap deadline of February 28th would suggest pretty much anything but a heart block is timely, what with it being exactly two weeks (a fortnight!) past Saint Valentine's Day but I figured what the whatever.  After all, I have received a handful, maybe not even that many, of heart quilt block requests for February over the years.  So few in fact that they might all be from the same person (I keep a list & when I get a request I put it on the list, when I get a second request, I put a tic mark, etc.  Maybe I need a better system, but for a long time this was the easiest way to look at all kinds of different ideas on the same plane). 

That's right I have been getting "let's make a heart block"-type requests for a while.  & ignoring them.  Then for whatever reason hearts just clicked & over the past six months I have gotten four more requests for a heart block (trust me, that's a lot).  So without further ado the February block for the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group CAN BE a greater than or equal to 4.5" unfinished/4" finished heart block of your choosing.  Or it can be a double set of 12.5" unfinished/12 finished 9-patches or it can be as many sets of different heart blocks & two, exactly two sets of 9-patches.  Because that clears it up, right?

Let me back up ever so slightly.  For February 2015 you CAN make a heart block, either by piecing it or appliqueing or embroidery or whatever OR  & this is a big OR...OR you can make something much much simpler, but you have to make more of them...

I wanted to offer a block that would also work for a beginner (or even someone with less time), along the same theme but I wanted to make the exchange fair.  I realize that a set of blocks that takes a week-end & a dozen FQs to make is just not the same as a block that takes two fabrics & two hours so this is what I came up with:

If you do not have the time or skills or motivation to make a set of the more advanced heart blocks (below) you have the option of making a set of TEN 9-patches (well, eleven if you keep one for yourself). 

Your nine patches MUST be three x three of 4.5" squares.  You should use two & only two different fabrics BOTH of which must be low volume & one of which should (but not must) have a heart theme- in the event you cannot locate a heart theme any other "romance-y" type print (flowers for example) would be acceptable.  Frankly even two read-as-solids or even actual solids would be fine.  .  Everyone can send TEN & ONLY TEN of these 9-patches (you can send as many sets of the more complex blocks as you like).  By low volume I mean colors that are "soft " i.e. pastels or creams or whites & patterns with a minimum of contrast (for example I own & LOVE a fabric with pale pink & coral poppies on a white background BUT they are outlined with a thick black line therefore, despite a majority of soft colors, this would NOT qualify as a low volume).  The example above might look dark, I assure you it is not; the darker tan color is way lighter than the latte I was drinking when I started this blog post Sunday morning.  & I don't mean the day before yesterday.

For your ten 9-patches you will get either ten 9-patches back OR you will get one more complex heart block for two 9-patches (so you might get 10 9-patches OR eight 9-patches & one pieced heart block OR six 9-patches & two pieced heart blocks etc. all the way to the very unlikely possibility you will get five pieced heart blocks & no 9-patches).  The converse of this is also true:  if you send five pieced heart blocks you might get back five pieced heart blocks & that is it OR you might get ten 9-patches (which I dearly hope doesn't happen but that is a bit out of my control).

I don't want to reinvent the wheel so I am directing you to this link for the basic 9-patch instructions.  Our nine-patch unit is 4.5", so you would need 4.5" squares (or strips if you were strip piecing) & then you can pretty much follow the directions here.  You will end up with a 12.5" unfinished/12" finished 9-patch.  Big, simple & fading to the background.


Now for the heart blocks.  Again, you can make ANY HEART BLOCKS YOU WISH in ANY TECHNIQUE.  For the hearts, you do not need to limit yourself to low-volume fabrics, but please do try to stay in the range of pink-red-purple-blue-black-gray for your darker/brighter shades.  Your five blocks should be at least 4.5" x 4.5" unfinished BUT they do not need to be any particular size & they can even be rectangle.  The end result will be a hodgepodge of sizes & shapes (at least one of the examples I am giving is a rectangular block) that can be used for a sampler.  & yes, it is possible you might make a rather large, many pieced heart (perhaps like this one), or a foundation pieced heart (like the Feb 2013 or even the Feb 2012 from Block Lotto)  or even something less complex like these free patterns from Simplicity.  Or maybe something here will make YOUR heart go pitter-pat.  Like I said, try to limit your not-low-volume fabrics to the Valentine-y color range (pink, red, purple, blue, black & gray) & try to use at least three fabrics; try but don't make yourself nuts.

As always, we swap in sets of five (so make six so you can keep one for yourself).  If you choose to make only the 9-patches please make to sets & limit yourself to just two sets (for a total of ten blocks).  For the heart block send as many sets as you like, you can also send two sets of 9-patches if you wish, but you don't have to.

Let me restate that so it is clear:  for the low volume fabrics there are no color restrictions (a pastel green or yellow would be perfectly acceptable) but for the darker louder colors the preferred palette is  limited.  & only not 9-patches can have anything outside of low volume; all the 9-patches should be low volume fabrics only. 


The heart block I made was about as easy as it gets.  I began with a log cabin center:  two 2.5" squares, one pink & one dark gray & added a 2.5" strip of the pink to make the heart.


& if you are wondering about that strip of fur at the bottom of the frame, someone I love thought I was taking a picture of her.

I added a strip to the side, decided it looked too wide & cut it down to 2".  I then took two 7.5" squares & cut them corner to corner to put the whole thing on-point.

& that black edge in the lower right corner?  They got tired while I was arranging & forgot they were supposed to be posing.  Yes, they sleep like that all the time.  One of them has separation anxiety.  Guess which one.

This brought me to three fabrics.  Also, notice the busy fabric is a combo of low volume (pink, white pale gray, pale brown) & the preferred dark colors (red, black, dark gray) & just the smallest amount of dark brown.  The dark brown is not great BUT it was next-to-impossible to find fun (i.e. with hearts & dogs) fabrics w/out some "other" colors which is why I used the word "preferred" when I said red, pink, blue, purple gray & black. 


But you don't have to make this heart, you can make my heart, there really are tons of blocks out there.

Last but not least the bullet points
  • You can send exactly ten 9-patches or as many sets of five hearts as you desire or exactly ten 9-patches & as many sets of five hearts as you desire
  • The 9-patches are low-volume only, two fabrics only & ideally one will have a romantic print.  These 12.5" unfinished/12" finished blocks should fade to the background
  • The heart blocks can be square or rectangle or whatever just at least 4.5" on each side.  They can be low volume or darker/brighter colors (try to stay in the pink-red-purple-blue-black-gray if you can)
  • Blocks are due in the last Saturday in February 28, 2015.  Please remember to review the guidelines about what you need to do such as send (an envelope to return your blocks in), the address is in the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group file "mailing label", etc.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Not quilting but knitting: the nighttime dog walker's hat

I know, I should be getting the FEB, MAR & JUN 2015 Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group blocks up but I need a bit of a break.  Also, it helps if I change gears ever so slightly before I do the final cut-&-sew test on directions, so that is what I will be doing this afternoon.  In the meantime, though, this is what I did last month.

First I found this absolutely ridiculous yarn.  There is a reflective band wrapped  in with the acrylic fibers that make the yarn & I very quickly got hooked.  It is not an elegant yarn, it does not feel especially good to work with & it is over priced for what it is (especially considering how much of it is pulled, frayed & knotted:  buyer beware), BUT I love it.  I brought these instead of bottles of wine to holiday parties, I sent two to my Reddit gift-victim (one of them the traffic cone at the right, the other something nicer), at cookie swap when my shortbread cookies vaporized (really, into dust) I made up for it with a hat.  These hats have gone global.

But as much fun as this this yarn is to look at, it is, as I said, not all that comfy.  I decided to do a double yarn thing, but I needed to add in a yarn that felt good, but had the same care requirements, so I went back to the Red Heart well & wow do they have some retina burning color combos in their super saver line!

Thus these hats were born.  With both yarn, cast on 60 stitches.  Put a stitch marker every 12 stitches & two markers where you join the ends (yep, it is all in the round.  I used a circular 16" size 6 US needle you might want to go longer.  I have small strong hands & working cramped is not a problem for me.
ribbing-no flash
Join the two ends of the cast-on row on circular needles with the first stitch (careful not to twist, etc.).  Start immediately on the rib (there is NO all-knit anchor row) K2, P2 all the way around.  I went for a deep ribbing so it could be folded for a cushier edge so mine were 2.5"-3" or more, but make what you like.

ribbing- with flash
When the ribbing it what you want it to be, you can change to a 7 US or 8 US (the 7 transitions ever-so-little, the 8 makes it poofier).  You will need to add a stitch in each of the sets of 10.  I did this by knitting as usual in the first P of the first P2 of each set of 10, & then before removing from the needle I knit to the back loop of the same stitch.  This made a hole & dimple free rib to body line, which is the holy grail of increasing while working with bulky or double yarns. 

Knit in the round long as you like.  I went about 4".  Then you need to decide, do you want a pointy hat, or a flatish top.  The less frequently you decrease, the longer & pointier your hat will be.  Begin by knitting 10 stitches (all but the last 2 stitches in each section) knit those last 2 together.  You can do this every row (I prefer this; it makes a flat op hat like the one here) or you can knit a complete row or two in between (which makes the traffic cone above). 

I did this until I had 6 stitches left & then I kitchener stitched them together.

As quick as this hat is & it really is- I can make one of these in 4 hours or less -this is not a beginner project.  I would suggest people already have some circular knitting under their belts & maybe play a bit with the knitting two yarns at the same time thing.  Also, the reflective yarn can be yuck-yuck-yucky to work with.  The reflective fiber snaps if it is pulled too much & both the Red Heart yarns have ZERO stretch.  That being said, I have never had a knit thing be so widely well received. 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Jars swap ajar for JAN 2015

Last year (way back in 2014), the Facebook Quilt Bock Swap Group ran the second annual beginner-friendly year-long swap.  I was in a word "not good".  Actually that's two words & an exaggeration.  It was mostly good but just enough not good to muck up the works.  Because it was a sign-up only swap, people who missed the deadline (& yes, there are reasonable reasons to miss the deadline) sort of gummed things up as I either scrambled to find an alternate or waited until they could get their blocks in.  The further (it seemed) from the date a person had signed up, the less likely they were to actually make the deadline & so on & so on until the late blocks (or the on-time blocks that were not correct, wrong size mostly & in one instance entirely wrong blocks) were dragging well past the deadline of the next swap & then I ended up with a massive traffic jam on my dining room table just in time for year-end holidays.  I ended up making a few extra sets of alternates myself (on of them below, but missing the white-background header piece to bring them to the required height of 12.5" as apparently I never took final pictures) which was less than ideal for me & for everyone who had to wait for me.

Which brings us to now.  I STILL have some SEPT 2014 swap blocks in house!  & I am still missing some sets that far back.  Yikes, I know.  & there is still one month (this month JAN 2014) to go on this swap & at least one of the people currently signed up has been ignoring my where are your blocks messages from the NOV swap.


So I have decided to open the gates & make the JAN 2014 sign-up only swap NOT sign-up only.  If you did sign up & still want to go forward with it (& some of you have already sent your JAN jars THANK YOU!) that's great.  If you signed up for JAN & want no part of it, fine. Please do let me know (in the group, in the comments of the same message that has the sign-up lists) if you can, but if not it doesn't much matter because what is here is GOING just as soon as I can get it out.  Now for the good part:  if you did not sign-up for JAN & wished you could have or if you signed-up for a previous month & missed the deadline (or sent somehow-wrong blocks) you can still jump into this one. 

In other words, what had been a sign-up only swap for JAN is now open to everyone, whether they signed up for it or not.

The deadline for this swap is in-house JAN 31, 2015 & I will not be extending it so much as one hour past that date.  Seriously, I have an overflowing laundry basket of lingering block swaps-more my fault than anyone else's, I accept but it still must go!  The mailing address is in the group under the file Mailing Label & let me repeat the blocks should be IN-HOUSE by the 31st, not in transit. 

The block directions are unchanged & can be found in the original post from last FEB.   I would encourage anyone jumping in now to limit themselves to a single set of five for this last Well Preserved swap, as it would require eleven extra people to ensure no one gets doubles of any block, but if you want to make extras knowing you will get duplicates & maybe your own back, be my guest.  All the other ordinary rules apply, SASE envelope to get the swapped blocks back, etc. 

Last & probably not least, I have decided to table any other sign-up swaps for the foreseeable future.  We will no doubt do another another time, but for now we will be sticking to the no-sign-up model (& therefore no inconvenience if a deadline is missed...except to the person who misses the deadline).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Once more, for the new year

The good news is I am back.  Well & truly back on-line.  Our (minor) internet problems seem to be all resolve (not the reason I disappeared anyhow).  Our holidays are OVER, THANK GOD.  Despite every effort to make them no-effort-what-so-ever somehow they were a bit overwhelming.  Seriously, how can two adults, with no children & no plans be so damn busy for so many days?

Anyhow, as I dig out, pretty much the last thing I am dealing with is blogging & the first blogging thing I am dealing with is the upcoming quilt block swaps.  So starting tomorrow, as promised I will begin to roll out the next six months worth of swaps.  There is a not very surprising surprise for January, a holiday themed February, a Sara's choice for March (Sara's choice blocks are invariably the most popular-she is a better block picker than I am) & a real surprise for June-a real surprise because as of this moment I am not sure what it will be myself.

That's what's pending.  What has already happened:

I have broken my 15 minute mile cap.  It is now more like 14 minutes 45 seconds but whatever.  Also, I can maintain this average speed over two sets of 3+ miles each & a one minute walk in between.  Surprisingly I have gone done one clothing size.  Not even, almost as I am still wearing the petite size of the size I wore before, but we did do some clothing shopping over the break & I actually purchased pants that ARE a size smaller & with no spandex & no elastic waistbands.

I have started knitting again.  A lot.  In late October I did a two hours for two days program at the library on learning continental style knitting which was a bit too well attended.  I was fried after the first 15 minutes & last week a person I would swear I had never seen before in my life asked me when I was doing it again as she enjoyed it so much the first time.  Oy.  Maybe late April.  Since then though, I have the knitting bug again & have been making hats like a crazy person (more on that in a future post)

I am up-to-date with my bookclub reading.  People have gotten used to seeing me leaning against the car, speed reading through the current book while I wait for whatever I am waiting for but not this month! This month I am done & ready to discuss Mistress of the Art of Death.

Baby-quilt-a-palooza continues with nothing but baby girls as far as the eye can see.  I have gotten so bored with pink in all its many splendored shades that I am now making GRAY baby quilts with hot pink accents.  Also I have an idea that gray might hide the barf stains better.  Hopefully people have already started switching to boxers or whatever.  Seriously, the last baby boy I made a quilt for is in ?second? grade. 

& what hasn't happened:

My bathroom.  It is largely unchanged since these pictures.  Turns out my husband is VERY ALLERGIC to whatever it is that fills the air when we try to take down the old wallpaper.  In March he leaves for a week to go to a conference so I am waiting until then. 

Which brings us to now.  Mostly.  & starting tomorrow I am heading into the future.  The future of quilt block swapping, but whatever.  I am trying to break down the future into very small, bite-sized blog entries.