Monday, February 17, 2014

Sock Adventure #1

I have set myself a challenge for this year to complete a number of quilts in 2014.  I also want to knit a few pairs of socks.  I saw a picture on Pinterest a while ago with a drawer full of hand knit socks.

I am inspired.  Socks are a great take along - always with you project.  I try to keep my socks simple and usually use natural coloured yarn and then dye the socks when done or sometimes I'll dye the yarn before I knit it.

Let me show you what I have just finished.  These will be handed off to someone at work on Thursday.  We have a annual potluck lunch and gift exchange.  The theme is always socks with red or pink on them.

I always do a toe up sock.  I now use a figure 8 cast on and increase till I get to the required number of stitches then just knit away.

I've been knitting at work.  We've had a couple of weeks of cold weather and my dear hubby has driven me all the way to work instead of dropping me off at a bus stop along the way.  The down side is that I get to work over an hour early!  So, I sit at my desk and knit.  I've got a lot of knitting done.

Although the weather in Calgary has been quite cold, it has been very bright and clear.  We will often take a drive on a sunny Sunday afternoon out to Canmore.  If I don't have anything to do in the car, I fall asleep quite quickly...its a good thing I'm not driving. So I knit on the way out, an often do nap on the way back!

A Sunday afternoon drive to the mountains is the perfect get-away. 
I have never attempted a heel flap.  I have always done a short row heel.  I watched Donna Drachunas teach the perfect short row heel in this craftsy class.  Super easy and fast!

By the way...I highly recommend all the Craftsy classes.  The are fairly in-expensive and the instructions are pretty good.

I stitched a extended Crosshatch pattern into the leg portion of the socks.  A very simple pattern that looks pretty good.

All that's left to do is finish with a Stretchy Bind-ff The socks are done, but kind of boring and they don't meet the criteria for the Valentines Sock Exchange.....I'll need to dye them.

I soak the socks in a vinegar/water solution before I add the dye powder.

The socks are squished and smooshed in the dye solution until I get the dye saturation I want.

I cover the dish with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes at a time (usually 3 times).  Let everything cool.  The water is usually clear.  

The socks are then rinsed and dried.....


Quilts to give away - Quilts #2 (x2) done

I like having the challenge of working towards a goal.  This year's goal is to finish all the projects on my QUILTS TO DO IN 2014.   This month I've been busy. I completed the Aussie Stack n Slash earlier this month.

My 2nd challenge this month has been to quilt two smaller quilts to give away.  One is going to a lovely lady who is living with Cancer.  The other, I'm not sure....more about this quilt later.

This quilt I'm calling Thorn Patch.  I wrote a series of patterns a few years ago based on the disappearing 9 patch block.  In the process of closing my business, I misplaced the files for this series of quilt patterns  I know this was a sample made for me by one of my staff to test the pattern instructions.  I am hoping that as I continue to clean up and organize this year...the patterns will turn up.

 This Disappearing 9 Patch quilt was made with only 2 fabrics.  Two lovely purple and blue batiks have created beautiful diagonal lines.

The diagonal lines were the perfect space to try a new quilt pattern.  I saw something like this on Pinterest.  Other than having to continually roll the quilt back and forth, it was worth it.

The dark blue rectangles and the small squares were quilted with an all over large meander pattern.

It's always nice to have a look at the back of the quilt to have a closer look at the quilting.  I quilted this with a very dark blue invisafil thread.

Now on to the other quilt.  This was probably a sample of the Simple Strips Pattern....again, another pattern that is carefully stored with the other quilt patterns!

The Block pattern is made with 3 strips in light to dark values of 2 different colours.  The strip sets are sewn together and then cut on the diagonal.  This quilt is a bit of a challenge because the outer edges of the blocks are cut on the bias.
I was able to quilt this quilt with minimal rolling on the frame.  The pink "blocks" and the borders were quilted with an all over swirl pattern.  The green "blocks" were quilted with a flower and leaves.  The actual block is made of pink and green strips.  Check out the bottom right hand corner...that shows the block clearly.  Putting 4 blocks together creates the green "block" in the center.

I was exploring Pinterest a while ago.  I found a site for machine sewn binding that I thought I would try.  Pat Sloan gives a good demo.  My sample is not so great.  For some strange reason I added a wool batt on top of the cotton batting.  I thought that I would add a bit of extra loft for interest, but forgot to split the wool and the quilt was very thick.  

Back to the binding. This binding is sewn first to the back side of the quilt and then rolled to the front and machine stitched in place with an applique stitch.

The problem with my binding was that I had a very think and lofty batting that I probably should have trimmed away.  It was quite thick for the width of the binding.  I usually cut my binding 2 1/2" wide and fold it....the instructions were for 2 1/4" cut width.  That extra 1/4" would have made a world of difference.  Oh, well.  I'll probably use it as a teaching sample at some point.

The binding is sewn to the back of the quilt.  Then it's folded over to the right side and stitched down with an applique stitch.  

The straight part of the applique stitch is supposed to follow the original stitching line.  On the back of the quilt the straight stitch should sit right in the fold of the binding.  
I'll have to try this again some time.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Aussie Stack n Slash - Quilt #2 Done

Wow, the 2nd in my 2014 year of quilts is done! 

This is the Stack n Slash that I started a very long time ago.  My mother was visiting her brother in Australia and brought me back some Aussie prints.  I used some coordinating hand dyes from my stash and stitched the blocks.  I used the left overs to create a border.  The quilt is 70" square...perfect for cuddling under while watching TV.

I stitched the binding to the back of the quilt and folded it to the front to machine stitch it in place.   I moved the needle as far to the left as I could and stitched close to the folded edge.

 Done, nice and neat.  No unnecessary stops and starts.
Now a quick tutorial on how to make the stack n slash blocks.
1. Start with a stack of 3-6 squares of fabric.  Cut them 1-2 inches larger than the desired finished size of the block.
 2. Stack them evenly.  Make a cut through all layers.  Slide this cut section away from the rest of the stack.
3. Make a 2nd cut and move that section away from the rest of the stack.
 4. Make another cut and move it away.
 5. Make the last cut. 

6. Place the cut sections onto a scrap of batting to keep them from sliding around.  Now comes the hardest part.   On the first cut, don't do a thing.  On the 2nd cut section, move the top layer to the bottom of the stack.  On the 2nd cut section, move the top 2 layers to the bottom.  On the 3rd cut section, move the top 3 layers to the bottom and on the last cut section, move the top 4 layers to the bottom.  You'll notice that each section has a separate fabric.
 7. Sew the last 2 cut pieces together.  Finger press the seam allowance flat.
 8. Sew the 3rd section to the first 2 sewn.  Finger press the seam allowance.  Don't worry about matching the top and bottom edges of the seam.  I usually try to make sure the bottom edge of the seams match closer than the top edge of the seam.
 9. Continue adding the pieces in the reverse order of the cuts.  Press the seam allowances flat.   Trim the block to the desired cut size.  I started with an 8" cut block and the finished block is trimmed to 6 1/2" cut.
 10.  Repeat these steps with the remaining 4 stacks.  

11. Try making cuts in different directions.  Use only 4 fabrics or more.  Each block will look different.  Each column of blocks comprises blocks from the same cut set.  Even though the layout is the same, the blocks look different because they are "scrappy".
 11. A simple re-arranging of the blocks makes the quilt top sparkle.   Not sure what will become of this top......