Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gail Shawl and a Couple of Hats

Hi all -

Christmas keeps getting closer, and I keep working away at gifts. This weekend I finished my second shawl, from the Gail (aka Nightsongs) Shawl pattern by Jane Araujo. This pattern was a little more difficult for me to figure out because it didn't explicitly give the repeats. Instead, it showed the pattern for a leaf and how the leaves are woven together, and I had to figure out where the repeats were. It was a bit confusing for me, and there are a lot of mistakes, but I think it turned out well:

Here is a close-up of the leaf pattern:

The other thing I had trouble figuring out with this pattern was how big to make the shawl. The pattern was written as being for any size yarn and any gauge and you could make it as big as you wanted. But I know that lace grows when you block it, and I don't have a good sense yet for how much. So, while I was knitting I was afraid that I had made the shawl too big, but once I blocked it I kind of wished that I had added another repeat or two. But it'll be big enough. I'm still amazed at what a difference blocking makes, so here's a picture of the shawl before blocking:

I've also finished a couple of new hats. The first is from the Slouchy Hat with Picot Edge pattern by Jan Wise:

I really like how this hat turned out! I'm going to give this one to a friend for taking care of Lance while I'm in Houston, but I might have to make another one for myself. The other hat is from the Jesse's Christmas Hat pattern by Elspeth Kursh:

This would be a nice hat for a guy and will go into the bag of knitted items I'm donating to the homeless shelter. I should be able to drop that bag off this week, to help some people stay warm as the cold weather approaches.

Houston is fast approaching -- I leave a week from today. I can't wait to catch up with my quilting friends and see all of the amazing quilts!!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Trevor's Christmas Wallhanging

Hi all -

This week I have a new project to share with you. I'm making a wallhanging for my nephew, Trevor, for Christmas. For this wallhanging, I'm using the techniques from Karen K. Stone's English Paper Piecing By Machine iQuilt class. I've wanted to try the technique and the blocks from the class are pretty cool, so this seemed like the perfect time. Since this is from a class, I won't go into much detail about how to make the blocks.

First I had to pick the fabrics. My mom used to buy me a couple of yards of 5 coordinating fabrics every year for my birthday. I loved that! I thought one of those sets would be perfect for a guy and Trevor will really appreciate the little bit of his grandma in the piece. So, here are the fabrics I chose:

My mom didn't believe me, but I thought she had a great eye for putting fabrics together!

The first step in Karen's method is to make templates. I made mine out of card stock:

I was worried that the cardstock wouldn't hold up, but it was one of the suggested materials and I had some on hand, so I went for it. The cardstock did curl up a bit, but it worked just fine.

You prepare the pieces using the templates and lay them out on the pattern, gluing them together as you go:

Then you sew them together using machine applique with invisible thread. Here is my first block, before trimming:

In the class, Karen sews the arc together and then adds the inside and outside pieces, but I forgot that and glued everything together before sewing. For the second block, I did it Karen's way and felt like it was harder to keep the shape of the arc right, so I glued everything and sewed it all at once for the last two blocks. Here's what the first block looked like after trimming:

And here it is after leaving it laying on the cutting table overnight:

The cats do love fiber arts!

I now have the four blocks making the center of the wallhanging completed and have to decide how I want to put them together. My first thought was to make a circle with them:

I like the look, but it will be hard to put together this way. If I decide to make this block sometime, I think I'll make it as one continuous block so there won't be the ugly joins. This is the orientation that Karen used in the quilt for her class:

I think this is a more dynamic orientation, as well as being easier to piece, so I'll probably go with this one.

I still have to decide how I want to finish this. I could put simple borders on and do some fancy quilting. I could rotate it 45 degrees and add triangles in the corners with applique, like the ones in Karen's quilt. I think the applique triangles would be cooler, but I also don't want the wallhanging to get too big since it's harder to find wall space for larger quilts. I have time to sleep on this for a little while before the Christmas rush is on. I'll let you know what I decide.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Missouri Highway 36 Quilt Trail 2016

Hi all -

Sorry for the long silence, but I just got back from a fun trip to visit the family and follow the Missouri Highway 36 Quilt Trail with my sister, Sue. The quilt trail is a collection of quilt shops along Highway 36 in Missouri who host an annual event like the row-by-row challenge that quilt shops across the country participate in. It includes 17 different shops along the highway. At each shop, you can pick up a free block pattern or pay for a block kit, then you put all of the blocks together into a quilt and send a picture to one of the participating shops to be included in a contest for a new sewing machine. Sue heard about this trail sometime last year and told me that she wanted to do it with me, although we were just visiting the shops and not planning on making the quilt. You also pick up a passport at your first shop and get it stamped at each of the shops to show that you did indeed visit them all. I was surprised that my sister wanted to do this because she isn't a quilter, but we both thought it would be some fun sister time. I'm going to try to describe each of the shops we visited below, but this is all from memory so please forgive me if I get any of the details wrong. Sue took selfies at each stop, so that you could enjoy the trip with us.

We started last Monday afternoon, visiting two shops in St. Joseph, MO. Our first stop was Around the Frame Quilting which is right downtown:

This was probably my least favorite shop. It was one of those shops that is centered around providing longarming services, and has a few bolts of fabric to sell since they have the shop space. I'd say they had around 50 bolts of fabric in the whole shop. And they were kind of pushy about trying to get me to buy the block kit, and that always turns me off big time. But they did have a few cute fabrics and I did pick up a few.

The next shop was Glenda's Sewing Cupboard:

We had a bit of trouble finding this one because it turned out to be in a trailer on someone's farm property. We had to drive down a few gravel roads to get there:

 But we did find it! (We ended up on a lot of roads like this one on our trip.) We were starting to get a little leery about what the shops were going to be like on this trip, but then we stepped inside and were happily surprised with the bolts of beautiful fabric surrounding us. This is where Sue couldn't control herself any longer and became a quilter! I'm really excited to have one of my sisters start sharing my hobby!!

Since we got a late start, this finished our first day. We decided to head east to Cameron, where our next shop was located, before looking for a hotel room and ended up at a Day's Inn. It was a very memorable hotel! We got checked in and dragged all of our stuff up to the room. We prepared to watch the presidential debate, me with my knitting and Sue with her jigsaw puzzle, when I heard someone rattling our doorknob. I went to see what they wanted, and it turned out it was an older couple who had been checked into the same room before us! They had left their bag in the room, then had headed out to dinner. And we hadn't noticed the bag. When the desk clerk checked us into their room, he also reprogrammed the door so that they couldn't get back in. So I called down to the front desk, where he just kept repeating how the computer shouldn't let that happen until I suggested that he find us another room. So we had to pack up all of our stuff, lug it back down to the front desk and get checked into another room. It was pretty freaky!! I'll probably be avoiding Day's Inn in the future.....

Our third quilt shop was Crossroads Quilting:

I really liked this shop. It was more like the classic shops with lots of fabric, notions and patterns. This shop was a maze of rooms with different treasures everywhere. One of the little rooms was dedicated to Judy Niemeyer patterns and I couldn't resist picking up one that I hadn't seen before:

They also had a bunch of beautiful batiks, wonderful purse patterns and a lot of beautiful commercial fabrics. Sue has a bunch of bags that she needs to make now.

Then it was on to Shearwood Quilts & Fabrics in Jamesport:

This was a wonderful Amish shop that sold quilting fabric, Amish quilts, furniture and Christian books:

The fabric was wonderful and the prices were very reasonable. I especially loved their selection of batiks. Scrumptious! We both went a little crazy there. This was also my first trip through Amish country. It was really refreshing to see all of their beautiful horses pulling their carriages:

I didn't realize that there are a lot of Amish communities in Missouri, but I enjoyed visiting them.

Then on to Cuts & Bolts in Chillicothe:

This was another nice shop with several rooms of different fabrics. They had nice stuff, with some pretty periwinkles that I had to pick up. I've found that periwinkle is a color that can be very difficult to find so I pick some up whenever I see it.

The next stop was Hueffmeier's Fine Pines Quilt Shop in Brookfield:

This was another shop that is one someone's farm, but this time the shop is in a barn. There was a huge selection of fabrics, including some nice Christmas fabrics.

Then it was on to Rosie's Quilts in Marceline:

It was a bit of an adventure finding this one because it was again in a house on the backroads of Missouri and the GPS said it was about a half mile down from where it really was. But we persevered and found it! This shop is in the basement of someone's (presumably Rosie's) home. There wasn't much fabric to choose from, but the ladies were so nice that I had to find something to purchase.

If I remember right, we stayed in Macon that night. We had to go to three different hotels before we found a vacancy. Surprising for rural Missouri on a Tuesday night, but I guess people were in town preparing for Mizzou's homecoming game that weekend.

Bright and early in the morning we headed for Sew Creative in Salisbury:

Sue loved this shop and called it her favorite so far. I forgot to ask her at the end if it was still her favorite. It was an average sized shop, but the owner's taste definitely matched both Sue's and mine. I got some incredible copper-colored fabrics and some fabrics with winter animal scenes. Definitely a shop that I would recommend! And, again, the owner and the lady that worked for her were both really nice and helpful.

But we had to get back on the road so we could head to the Quilted Square in Kirksville:

This shop was at the end of a little strip mall. The look of the shop kind of turned me off. It was cluttered with junk of all types everywhere. The owner said they were getting ready to move to a new location so she had reduced prices on a lot of stuff. We picked up a few things and headed on.

Next stop was the Midwest Quilt Co in Shelbina:

This was one of those shops with lots of open space and not a lot of fabric. They did have some cool blacks with metallic copper designs on them that both of us got.

On the road again, we headed over to Hannibal, where we had hotel reservations. We arrived in time to visit Bits & Pieces Vintage Sewing Notions & More:

This was just an average quilt shop. They had a few things of interest, but it didn't take long to go through everything and make our choices. Which left us enough time to visit the other shop in Hannibal.

The second shop in Hannibal is the Hickory Stick Quilt Shop:

This is a fabulous shop with rooms and rooms of fabric and patterns! We were forewarned by the owner of Midwest Quilt Co in Shelbina that we would love this shop, and it was everything she said and more! The owner isn't a quilter, but she does love fabric and has wonderful taste and a good business sense. We both dropped a good bit of cash in this shop and stayed until closing time.

We decided to have dinner at a place that Sue had been to last year, so we got in the car and checked the GPS. The restaurant was right on the other side of the parking lot that was directly in front of us! Since we were already in the car, we went ahead and drove there. It was a nice place called something like the Mark Twain Tavern:

It was a nice place and we had a couple of delicious sandwiches:

We spent the night in a nice, clean hotel. It was a nice difference from the places we had been in the last two nights!

We got up early in the morning and headed back west to The Quilt Shoppe in Wheeling:

This was another one of those little shops at someone's home that took a bit of finding, but we got there. They had more fabric than I expected, but most of it wasn't to my taste. We picked out a few things and continued on.

The next stop was the Missouri Star Quilt Co in Hamilton:

I had been looking forward to this one since it was the only one that I had heard of ahead of time, and certainly wasn't disappointed. It looks like the quilt shop supports most of the business in Hamilton. The shop is actually a collection of 10 or so stores. There's a main store, which has a little bit of everything from the other stores:

The other stores are each based around a theme: batiks, licensed characters, holidays, children, etc. It was fun to go through each of the shops and we definitely spent a lot of money there. It was a little annoying, though, to have to buy things in each shop rather than having one big shop where you could just pick what you wanted and make a single purchase. But I do think we'll go back again sometime. They even had a nice little burger dive next door to the main shop where we got some tasty burgers for lunch:

By the time we finished up at the Missouri Star Quilt Co, we were both pretty tired and were suffering from a pretty severe sensory overload, so we decided that visiting 14 of the 17 shops was pretty good and we would skip the final 3. But we did want to visit Angela Walter's shop Quilting is My Therapy in Liberty on our way back home:

I'm a big fan of Angela's so I wanted to see what her shop was like. I also wanted to show Sue what modern quilts look like. Her shop was pretty much as I expected. She carries her fabrics and also fabrics by Tula Pink. She also has a lot of bag samples and patterns. It was nice to visit although there isn't a lot that would draw me there very often. After that we headed home.

I should be too embarrassed to do this, but I'm also going to share my purchases with you. I decided to let myself get whatever struck my fancy. First, here are the free barn block patterns that I picked up at each shop:

I don't know if I'll ever make these, but I thought it would be fun to collect them anyway. Here are the other patterns that I picked up:

As most of you know, I love batiks and couldn't resist picking up some more:

Several of these would make beautiful bags. Here are some of the commercial cottons I got:

You can see the beautiful coppers and the wonderful winter wildlife fabrics on the left and the black/white novelties that I love so much in the middle. On the right are the periwinkles and some cool orangish grays that I found. And the rest of my commercial cottons:

They are all so luscious! They are now all washed, folded and ready to be put away.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to make sure that I included all of the pictures and jotted down all of the details while I still remembered them. I hope you enjoyed following along!