Knitting down the stash

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A few years ago I went through a Colourmart stage where I bought a lot of coned yarns of various types.  I made some lovely projects, but still ended up with a couple of bins of cones that have been sitting around waiting for inspiration.

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With the intent of creating space where is now none, I grabbed some of the half full cones with thinner yarns and cast on with three of them held together for a 1×1 ribbing.  When one cone runs out I will add in another and just let the colors change.

These cones yarns still have the spinning oil on them, so when it is finished and washed in hot water the yarns will soften and expand.  And my available storage space will expand as well.

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So sick of this quilt

After over three years, my son’s long wait is over – I finished his Oceans quilt.

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There are many hours of happy sewing on this quilt.  I really loved the process of putting the many blocks together.  Paper piecing became a favorite activity.  I’m in awe of Janeen Van Niekerk and Linda Hibbert’s abilities to design the block patterns.  The jigsaw puzzle aspect of getting the blocks to fit together was fun.

But I am so, so sick of this quilt.  I can barely look at it, folded up on the sewing pile.  I don’t want to see blue batik fabric again for a very, very long time, to the point that I may cover bury it under some yellow and orange yardage.

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It isn’t like I didn’t sew a lot of other things in between Ocean bouts.  That’s why it took three years!  But for the last few months, even when I was working some other project, I couldn’t escape it.  Either a nagging little voice in my head said I needed to get back to it, or a large nagging voice standing next to me in the form of my younger son declared that I obviously didn’t love him since I hadn’t finished his quilt.  (He is good with the guilt, that boy!)  Pulling fabric for other quilts, surfing quilts on Pinterest and blogs, working on little sewing projects or knitting lace – I felt like I was neglecting a duty the whole time.

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But now it is done!  I’m free again!

If I ignore all the other unfinished WIPs . . .

But at least they don’t have a representative family member to harangue me about them.

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And, it turned out just as I pictured it in my head, and more importantly, how my son pictured it in his head.

We chose fabrics that lightened from bottom to top, like the ocean does from deep to shore.  I quilted it in two ways – individual outlining and details for the creatures, and wavy water lines to suggest waves for the background.  I changed thread colors (when I remembered) from deep navy to a lighter blue as I progressed up as well.

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Even a potential disaster turned into a plus.  When I washed and dried it to bring out the crinkles, I forgot to put a color catcher sheet in, and the dark red fabric pieces bled just a little.  It didn’t really show in most areas unless you look really closely, but around the mouth of the shark, the white jaw got a little bit of a red stain.  My son and I agreed that it made it look even more vicious, the little suggestion of bloody teeth.  He’d actually asked me once to embroider on some blood, so he was really happy about it.

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This quilt is going to get used a lot.  It may not survive all the washings for very long, and I know for a fact that a dog is likely to sleep on it while its boy sleeps under it.  But however long or short its life, this quilt is going to be well used and well loved, which is the point of it all, right?

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Check one off the bucket list

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I’d never seen the Grand Canyon close up.  I flew over it once in a small plane – something like 30 years ago – but I’d never stood on the edge and gazed.

Now I have.  It was amazing.  Overpowering.

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We drove up from the Phoenix area on the scenic route that goes through the red rock hills of Sedona, which are pretty amazing themselves.

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It was a bit of a whirlwind trip – we arrived in the evening on a Wednesday, so stuck to the fairly crowded viewing sites around the main visitor’s center for that evening.  The next day, after an overnight in a motel in Williams, AZ, which prides itself on being a stop on the famous Route 66 highway, we went back and spent the full day exploring along the southern rim.

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We started by hiking down into the canyon on the Bright Angel trail.  We did only a very small segment, just the first mile or so, because I kept reminding my sister and children that there was a very real possibility they would have to carry me out – an easy downhill makes for a very difficult, steep, upward climb on the return trip.  Signs the park has posted included illustrations of people throwing up, overcome by the climb out.  No one wanted that!

This is a partial view of the part that we walked, along with a lot of other people.  Mules had left a lot of clear signs that they also used the trail, which we carefully maneuvered around.

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This is more of the trail, showing where I called a halt – we stopped at the top of the extreme switchbacks that you see starting there.  Overall, we spent about two hours going down and up.  Enough to get a sense of the ambition and endurance of those who hike all the way down – it is a two day trip to get to the river and back out again by foot.

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There is a very helpful shuttle bus system set up along the rim that we used for the rest of the day.  It is a hop-on-hop-off system stopping at a multitude of overlooks.  The further out we got, the fewer the people, so there was a chance to stop and really look out over the canyon and think about how amazing nature’s processes are.

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We went full tourist at one point and faked some falling-from-the-edge shots to freak out the Grandmas on Facebook.

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Some grew a little weary of looking at scenic rocks.

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We met elk and learned that they eat pine needles.  A hard way to make a living.

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But mostly we just looked, and looked, and looked.  I just couldn’t have imagined how impressed I was going to be.

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The next morning we had to head back to Grandma’s, but we are already in family discussions about signing up for a hiking/rafting/mule trip in the future for the extended family.

Sad as we were to leave the Grand Canyon, the return to the pool was very welcome.

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And, because this is supposed to be a craft blog, not a family vacation blog, I’ll sneak in a picture of the mini-quilt that I made my mom a while back, that hangs on her hall wall:

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This was my first use of beads on a quilt.  I’m really itching to embroider some more cacti as well after all that time in Arizona, so we’ll see where that takes me in the near future.

 

 

 

Napkins

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A very quick sewing project during a spare moment.  I’ve been wanting some cloth napkins, so I found a couple of blue fabrics and sewed four two-sided napkins.

It is a quilting cotton, so not the heaviest, but doubling it up gives it a nice weight.  They were cut at 18″ square, which let me get four squares from each yard of fabric with a bit left over.

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It was about the quickest project possible.  Just a matter of sewing around the edges, turning them right side out, and then top stitching to keep the hems flat and close the hole.

I’ve already picked out some more fabrics to make more.

Update – 3/29 – Here is the next batch, folded to show the two fabric choices.

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Little houses

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We’ve done a lot to our house lately (new floors, ceilings, windows, skylights, closets, doors . . .) but one very neglected area is the walls.  There has been some painting, courtesy of my sister who actually likes to paint walls, a fact I am taking the utmost advantage of.  But other than that, the walls have been left pretty much alone.

Our last house didn’t have a lot of open, bare walls, so we really don’t have enough pictures to hang up.  Those we do have I’ve gradually gotten up around the place, but there is still a lot of open, empty space.  And I’ve been suffering from terminal indecision about buying new wall decor, so it has been months of staring at emptiness.

This weekend I made a small step towards improving the situation.  I used a Johanna Masko paper piecing pattern to create a small wall hanging for the entryway.  I love it!  It is made from various quilt scraps in warm tones that go with the yellow accent walls and the gray/brown living room furnishings.

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This was a very fun and fairly quick project. It would have been quicker if I’d done a better job of fabric scrap selection on a couple of sections.  I ended up making one of the trees twice and the modern ranch house twice as well.  The tree didn’t have enough contrast the first time, and the way the ranch fabric lines didn’t line up bugged me until I remade it.  Which is ridiculous, because I replaced it with a floral which is not more believable in a house siding, but when I kept going back and staring at it I knew I wasn’t going to be able to look at those offset lines every day up on the wall.

It also made for quite a messy work area as I tossed through all my scrap bins looking for the right pieces to include.

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It is minimally quilted with just outlines around each house and tree and I put on a very narrow binding, the first one in a long while that I’ve hand stitched instead of machine stitching.  I confess that that was less a design choice and more a factor of the fact that somehow I lost my focus (and/or mind) and cut the binding at 2″ wide instead of 2 1/2″.  So there wasn’t a lot left to wrap around to the back and I was worried I’d miss it with a machine sewn line.

It is hanging on the small wall that is the side of our coat closet, just where I’ll see it first thing every time I come in the front door.  I don’t think I’ll tire of it quickly.

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My son, on the other hand, is very bitter that it is not his quilt.  I really had better get to pinning that soon!

 

 

 

Ocean sewing

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To my son’s joy,  I’ve finally completed the Oceans quilt top.  I think he wasn’t sure that he would ever see this day!  All the blocks are sashed, quilted, and sewn together.  I started this quilt back in 2015, part of a QAL from Quilt Art Designs, so it is great to finally see it coming into the home stretch.

For the most part in the quilting I just outlined the creatures, and then added some internal details.  The sea lion pup finally got his whiskers, for example.

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I tried to make sure that there weren’t any areas too large that went without quilting. I don’t want this thing to come apart in the wash after all this effort!  But I didn’t do any quilting on the sashing yet, as I plan to add lines to look like actual waves once I’ve done the sandwich.

After the quilting, I sewed the blocks together with a slightly wider seam.  After pressing the seams open, I don’t think the extra lines of thicker batting is going to be noticeable in the finished quilt.  There are places in the paper pieced blocks that are thicker/stiffer feeling due to the many tiny pieces having overlapping layers.

I also got the back pieced.

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Now, of course, my son has started nagging about getting the pinning done.  He definitely keeps me on track!