Sunday, April 22, 2007

JL Don't Peek

I've been busy with numerous & varied projects since last post, and thought I'd show you one of them. This is going to be a baby quilt, for a friend's almost-born granddaughter. The baby is due within a week. Nothing like leaving it until the last minute. . .

This pattern is the quickest and easiest quilt I know how to make. It is a reversible Roman Stripes, which gets quilted as I sew the strips of fabric on. I will be sewing through multiple layers of fabric & batting so I use a walking foot. Here's how it's done.

1. Cut squares of relatively stable batting. I use Warm & Natural. The squares can be any size, but I usually go for 13 1/2". I'm making 12 blocks, so I cut 12 squares. You can make your quilt as many blocks as you want, and you can make them any size that you want. Mark a diagonal line on both sides of the square (same point-to-point on both sides).

2. Cut squares of two main fabrics, larger than the batting squares - I usually cut them about 14 1/2". I'm making this quilt 3 X 4 blocks, so a total of 12 blocks. I cut six squares of fabric because they're cut in half, diagonally. (If you were making 20 blocks, you would cut 10 squares of fabric & cut those in half diagonally.)

3. Place one triangle of fabric on each side of the square, on opposite corners. The print should show, right side up, and the triangles should cover the diagonal lines which are drawn on each side of the square.

4. Now, place a strip of contrast fabric, right side down, over the diagonal edges of both the fabrics. You should have four layers of fabric + batting sandwiched in the middle.

5. Locate the corner points of the batting under the fabrics & make dots on the top layer of fabric, at those corner points. Then draw lines lightly to mark the diagonal of the square, so that you can see exactly where your first line of stitching will be. Sew on that line, diagonally, from point to point.

6. Fold the contrast strips back on both sides of the block, and iron. Then place another strip on each side, progressing out each time a strip is added, toward the point. When I'm doing a different color on each side, I do all the strips for one side at a time, using a bobbin thread that matches the bottom layer, so that the quilting stitches blend in with the fabric. Then after one side is done, I change bobbin thread to coordinate with the other side, and then add those strips.
*Note - be sure to iron after adding each strip.

7. After all your blocks are made, trim edges to make the blocks square again. Be sure that the diagonal seam runs right down the middle. I usually wind up removing 1/8" - 1/4" to get the blocks back to square.

Next time, sashing & binding. :-)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

We're Lost, but We're Making Good Time

One thing I’ve come to acknowledge, over the years, is my hubby & his family’s penchant for debate. Call it discussion, exchange of ideas, or out & out informing (whomever) of factoids, they’re way into that. So I found it quite amusing to listen to my dear hubby express his insights and differences of opinion to “Lucille”, our newly acquired Garmin Nüvi device which, when installed in our vehicle, is supposed to give us directions to wherever we are going. It appears that Lucille takes into account only distance. . . not scenic routes, and definitely not which particular bridge, in crossing the Columbia River, would appear to be sturdy enough to bear the weight of a diesel truck hauling a travel trailer. So we proceeded, with Doug having an ongoing conversation with Lucille, instructing which routes might be better choices for our trip. I was happy to be out of the loop and enjoyed my knitting time. Lucille spent a lot of time uttering the word “recalculating”.

As for knitting projects on the road, I’ve given up on lace knitting altogether. That requires a stable setting with good light, at least for me. Socks are out of the question, too, taking into account the small needle size, fine yarn & the truck’s frequent bounces & turns. I need something with larger needles, larger yarn, and uncomplicated pattern while traveling. So, I pulled out some Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride from my stash, and some handspun ditzels of yarn and voila, we’re doing modular knitting.

The square that I’m doing in varying configurations is 11 stitches per side, plus one corner stitch (in the center). I’m doing mostly garter stitch, but once in awhile throw in stocking stitch to show off a pretty color. Double decreases are done every other row on the wrong side, using the center three stitches each time. That leaves one less stitch on the outsides with each decrease row, down to the point where there remains only one stitch on the needle. At that point, I pick up stitches on the right side along an edge of the square, again, having 11 stitches + 1 corner stitch, then cast on the remaining side of 11 stitches. For the smaller squares, I use six stitches per side, and for the larger rectangles that are composed of two squares, 11 stitches + 1 corner stitch, + 22 stitches + 1 corner stitch, + 11 stitches = 46 stitches. For the units of 3 squares, the total stitches cast on are 69. Just thought you might like to know. :-) And by the way, if I were to do it again, I’d probably choose to start with 12 stitches per side since I’m enjoying throwing in a few of the smaller squares (and half of 12 is 6). My squares are turning out to be about 3 1/2".

After we took some time to visit the areas surrounding White Salmon, Washington, we headed south into Central Oregon seeking a few days of sunshine. I’m happy to say that we found sunshine, and weather in the high 60’s & low 70’s. We also found spectacular mountain peaks, and for those of you who live in different parts of the country, we don’t consider them to be mountains unless they are covered with snow and/or periodically erupt. It’s a Pacific Northwest kind of thing.

I hope you enjoy the photos. This is a beautful part of the country & we’ll definitely be coming back. . . hopefully some year to catch the Sisters Quilt Show It’s the second Saturday in July).

Happy Easter everybody!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


We're taking a week off & having a great time. We spent the first weekend at Alpacapalooza in Puyallup WA. I love these animals. . . always have, and I'm hoping that life will take us in a slightly different direction so that we can actually *have* a couple of them. (There are many steps along the way to this goal, beginning with the fact that we live in town and aren't zoned for such pursuits. If things go as we hope, that will change.)

The part of Alpacapalooza that we spent the most time at was the judging. It was just like a dog show, but with alpacas instead (but the judges don't have to prance them around). The beasties are inspected for quality of fleece and conformity to standards, and the winners receive ribbons and encouragement to reproduce. The highest prized ones command many $$$$$ in price or stud fees. We would be looking more for a couple of healthy pets that I could shear annually, so we wouldn't be breeding, at least not to start. As it turned out, we have friends in the business (that we didn't even realize). . . long-lost contacts which we hope to resume.

So here are a couple of photos of the sweet little ones that we saw. There are two varieties here, regular alpacas & suri (no relation to Suri Cruise). The suris have longer locks, rather like silky dreadlocks. They're all beautiful & charming.

After our fun in Puyallup we headed to southern Washington. We're in White Salmon (hubby picked this spot) which is just across the bridge from Hood River, Oregon. I got to go to Knot Just Another Hat yarn store in Hood River, and met fellow blogger, Yvonne at who, it appears, is living a life parallel to mine. We both teach spinning at our respective LYS's and we both hand dye yarns for sale at our LYS's. (She is much younger, though.) What a joy to get acquainted. :-)

Our other point of interest was the Stonehenge replica in Maryhill WA, just up the road from White Salmon. It is a war memorial constructed in memory of WWI soldiers, and it was constructed by (I'm not kidding) Sam Hill.

Tomorrow we head on to Oregon.