Monday, October 16, 2017

Distracted by Fair Isle

Last Friday, I attended a workshop at Knitting Temptations in Dublin, Ohio with Janine Bajus from California, a recognized authority on Fair Isle knitting and design.  I've been fascinated by Fair Isle design for many years -- proof?  I have owned Knitting Tams by Mary Rowe since it was published in 1989 (the best book written about designing and making Fair Isle tams according to Janine) and a large quantity of Shetland fingering wool. 
(Mary's book is out of print but you can find used copies HERE if interested.)
Two years - no, make that three years ago, I started knitting a massive shawl designed by Christel Seyfarth of Denmark (her website is HERE) in an effort to use all the fingering wool and thanks to Karen, the lovely owner of Knitting Temptations, I now have the information I need to clear the final hurdle to getting this finished!!
The interesting aspect of the workshop I attended -- Color Outside the Lines, Fair Isle Tam -- was the conversation about color and the fact that "value is more important than color" in organizing a Fair Isle design.  I wanted to jump up and shout "YES" -- exactly what I emphasize in my piecing workshops!!

We spent our "working" time laying out and knitting color swatches to understand our preferences and our options.  I finished one and a half in class and am continuing to experiment with ideas.
I'm cruising Ravelry and Pinterest looking at Fair Isle projects to help sort out my value preferences - that can be a bit challenging because color is always distracting me from my focus.
Just like my piecing, if I can sort out the value elements of a design, it helps me understand my personal preferences faster than making everything I see the is "pretty".
Understanding my personal preferences is the key to being satisfied with project results whether it be piecing or knitting!
I signed up for the workshop on an impulse and squashed it into my schedule!
What an excellent decision it was -- a mini vacation -- doing something that I've longed to try under the tutelage of an excellent teacher in delightful surroundings with lots of like minded gals!
Doesn't get much better than that.

I highly recommend Janine as a teacher and Knitting Temptations as a shop!
You can find Janine at the Feral Knitter HERE to check out her teaching schedule.
Knitting Temptations is on the north side of Columbus, Ohio in historic Dublin and their website is HERE.
Of course, I left the workshop with Janine's new book, The Joy of Color. It promises to be a good read and I'm looking forward to finding more connections with my piecing approach!
I've no idea how I'm going to squash knitting Fair Isle tams into my work time -- thank goodness, the garden is going to bed for the winter.  That's always the challenge isn't it -- how to make time for new ideas when you love everything you are doing right now!?!

Have a good week!!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A New Project???

It's the otter's fault!
He sucked me into buying a fat quarter bundle of Down by The River by English designers, Lewis and Irene
And my new rule is to use the newest fabrics I purchase as soon as possible!!
So first I made a stack of pieces in my stash that "go with"!
And then, I found a project -- it's a Triangle Sew Along hosted on the Bernina blog by Brigitte Heitland -- Zen Chic!!  It's slow paced -- only need to make four of the current block and it's a modern quilt -- something I still find a bit baffling.
So I'm thinking that this sew along will help me understand some of the underlying principles of simple clean modern quilt layouts.
We'll see??

I can use Marti Michell's 60 degree ruler to cut all the pieces -- these are the first blocks!
And the second blocks -- only six!! 
I scattered them up on the design wall yesterday afternoon as I started cutting the pieces for the third set of blocks.  I think I like where this is going!!
Brigitte edited the post for the first block HERE based on a comment from a follower and shared an idea for stitching together a band of rectangles and then using the triangle ruler to cut the units.
I adapted that idea a bit for the third block by alternating 3" by 5" rectangles with 1 1/2" strips.
The ruler is centered on the 1 1/2" strips and a triangle unit is cut.
Then rotate the ruler 180 degrees and cut another -- very little waste, very efficient.
I had eight blocks in no time!
Back to the design wall for another preview!
There is a total of 12 different blocks which will be finished by the end of February.
It's an easy pace and it's so much fun to use some of the new stuff right away!!

Have a good weekend!!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Quilting Progresses

I could not resist -- I had my current hand quilting project along to use during my lecture presentation and there was that beautiful bed!!
The location is the Cook room at the National House Inn in Marshall, Michigan where I stayed last Saturday night -- oozes charming!!
It's almost too perfect isn't it -- the color of the room and the bed with the canopy??

I'm currently working on the center row of the quilt.
I'm using Presencia perle cotton, size 16.
I had picked up a few spools of it here and there.  Somewhere along the middle of the second row, it became obvious that I wasn't going to have enough thread -- I searched locally in vain.
Then an Instagram friend tipped me off about the Colonial Needle Company and they carry a complete selection of the colors in that size!
The thread dilemma had me stalled but then I stumbled across the #100daysofhandquilting hashtag on Instagram and that sparked me back into action. 
Posting my progress daily and all those little red 💖's is just the incentive I needed. 
I hope my followers will not get tired of seemly repetitive pictures as I slog along. 
Today will be Day 14!!
If you are on Instagram you can find me @hueymary
(There is also #handquiltWednesday on Instagram for more inspiration!!)

It takes me three to five evenings to quilt one motif and I've steered away from the traditional "outline the hexagon" approach.  Another Instagram follower asked me to share close-up photos of the quilting designs from the back side -- that won't help very much, will it?
So I've made some sketches and taken a few photos to illustrate some of the quilting motifs I've created. 

This photo shows the double zigzag outline of each motif and the quilting of the path hexagons.
These drawings might clarify it a bit.
The pink lines are the quilting lines -- diamonds in the light floral print
and a trefoil-like chain around the green intersection hexagons.
Here's a closer look at one of the intersections.
In the diagram below, the pink lines illustrate the outline of the entire motif.  
The first line is approximately 1/4" from the seams and the second line (along the lower left corner of the drawing) illustrates the placement of the second line which uses the corners of the hexagons as guide points.
Does it make sense? 
The blue "snowflakes" in the central hexagons is a filler I'm scattering here and there.
The light green diagram (above) that "joins" three hexagons is my favorite and it's featured in the photo below.
Below is my favorite motif quilting design so far -- it's the one I'm currently doing in the photo of my hoop at the beginning of this post.  It's the second time I've used it in the quilt and it won't be the last!
The green hexagons represent the path around a motif.
The blue line traces the outside seams of the motif and the center hexagon (not quilting lines).
I begin at the center hexagon with the "snowflake".
The pink line traces the first line of quilting.  It is 1/4" from the seam lines where it traces the shape of a hexagon and as those lines (which I'm drawing with a chalk pencil) extend towards the center intersecting to form the "V".
The second quilting line is green and it's 1/4" from the seam lines.
The third line is brown and it bisects the center of the hexagons and echoes the "V"s.
Put your finger on the screen and trace each line to clarify it.
I thought long and hard before adding the third line, but there was too much empty space without it.
As I look at the drawing, I'm thinking I should plunge the "V" of the third line deeper.
Someone asked what inspired this approach to quilting the hexagons.
As I think about how to answer that question, it seems like it goes way back in my quilting experience when someone said to me to look at the "shapes" created by the patchwork rather than the individual pieces of the patchwork.
Don't know who said it? 
But glad it stuck!!

Now that I'm halfway along with the center of the quilt, it is moving along smoothly as I'm repeating motifs.  But I'm already expecting to struggle with how to quilt the border.
Hopefully by the time I arrive at that point, my subconscious will have solved that and planted an idea in my head!!

Back to the hoop!!


Thursday, October 5, 2017

On the Road!!

My week began with a teaching trip to western Michigan -- explored the area a bit on my way there!
 I found the Otis Farm Audubon Preserve down one country road and actually got out of my car and just stared down this road for a few minutes because it was so lovely and peaceful.
Ever since my trip to New Zealand in 2009, I've been aware of natural silence and I found it walking around this lovely meadow bordered by old fence lines now marked by trees.
No freeway or train noise in the background!
Just crickets and distance crows.
It is the season for the turkey foot grass which has been planted in this meadow and I took quite a few pictures of it blooming against the horizon.  The subtle colors drew me in and it might become something?
As I headed out to the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, I hoped I would come across a dune area that I could explore.  Sure enough, the Rosy Mound Dunes have been preserved for just that purpose!
The map warned me about all the steps but I wasn't prepared for the height of the dunes and the diversity of them -- not just little mounds of sand -- ancient huge accumulations of sand with mature forests and alluring little valleys.
This little area of loosely scattered oaks at the bottom of the stairs was teaming with birds when I got down there!
There was shopping, too.
Three new to me shops and some small amounts of fabric to fill in here and there.
This one is curious and I have no idea of it's destiny, but couldn't leave without it.
And a few new birds prints!!
Today, I'm heading back out to help Denise from Mercantile on Main in Coshocton, Ohio vend at the Granville, Ohio quilt show this weekend.  I've packed up lots of hand stitching for my Dodecagon project and expect to make big headway!?!
There are hexies to baste so I can keep up the #100hexiesin100days2017 momentum.
Look how many I've done in the first 52 days!
And kits of black hexies to make three more "loops" that will have a large scale print appliqued into the center.
I have two more dodecagons to border with the black hexies.  I'm anxious to get these two parts of the project finished so I can begin to assemble the center of the quilt.
My Sew Together Bag has the last four dodecagon motifs cut and ready to baste and assemble.
And it all fits into the Maker's Tote along with my date book, Kindle, camera, and reading glasses!
Actually, this bag can get a bit heavy.
And just in case I get all that done, I think I'll take along the box of hexies and the other 12 dodecagons so I can start to border them with the black hexies.
What an optimist?!?
Is that the way you travel, too? 

I'm looking forward to the drive down to central Ohio and hoping the fall colors are beginning to dazzle.
Hope your weekend is relaxing!


Sunday, October 1, 2017

4th Quarter 2017 Finish A Long Goals

I can't believe it's time to set finishing goals for the last quarter of 2017??
It's such a busy quarter than I'm going to keep it simple because I know other projects will catch my eye as I generate Christmas gifts.

First and foremost, must absolutely be finished are two Jolly Holiday sampler quilts for my favorite grandson and favorite granddaughter!!  As of this writing, one top is assembled and the second just needs an afternoon of studio time to be ready to layer.
Backing fabrics are in hand.
Quilting will be simple and durable because I know these will become living room cuddlers.
I love that my kids and grands use the quilts I make for them!!
(Head over to Lorna's blog HERE to check out these patterns.)
This UFO has put in 12 (or more) years on the ready-to-quilt shelf.
I layered it this summer to illustrate how I do that on a table (click HERE to read that post).
So I might as well quilt it and let it start the useful part of it's life!!
I'm thinking it might be donated to a fund raiser for a local family. 
(The pattern is in Karla Alexander's book, Stack a  New Deck -- LINK).
Finally, this a rollover from the last quarter (and perhaps the second quarter?).
It's the crib size version of my pattern, SANDSTONE - you can buy the digital version HERE for $5.
It's layered and would be a good fall addition to my Etsy shop.
Need a baby quilt? 
I'm sure grateful to the gals around the world who maintain the Finish A Long connection!!
It's so much fun to see what everyone is doing and the inspiration is terrific!!
What are your goals?


Linking up HERE!

Friday, September 29, 2017


Today I'm finalizing my stacking and packing for a trip to work with the PALS Quilt Guild of Muskegon, Michigan.  The lecture I'm presenting on Monday evening is called Old Dogs (that's me), New Tricks (that's you).

Yep, you!!

All the generous quilt makers who share their work and ideas on blogs, Facebook, and Instagram.
All the quilt makers who follow my posts and encourage me with their comments

You've energized my work and given me a new spark as a quilt maker.

Couldn't have done it without you!!

Back to the stacking and packing!

Have a good weekend,

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tips from Mary, the Teacher

Over the next 6 months, I'll be teaching Piecing the Feathered Star with Marti Michell's templates several times.  I made a new set of "step samples" to use in the workshops alongside the finished tops.  This morning, I pulled fabrics, cut all the pieces and assembled the various steps while reviewing my teaching outline to get my head back into that groove.
As I was working, I was thinking about the frustrations I sometimes encounter in the classroom so today I'm sharing a few tips from this teacher's point of view that I  think will improve your workshop experiences. 

Fall is always busy, isn't it?  So being efficient is good.
Over the past few years, I've discovered that going straight to my stash of "sacred piles" is the quickest way to gather up the fabrics for a new project.
Tip #1 -- when you need fabric for a workshop project, check out the sacred stacks first -- most of the "choosing" is already done -- so much less stress!!
Of course, you know what a "sacred pile" is, don't you?
(It's a stack of fabric that looks great together and you are saving it for just the right project.)
I won't ask how long your stacks have been "sacred" if you don't ask how long mine have been.

Thing is, if I don't use them, they will end up in the BIG yard sale so these days, I always go there first.  And sure enough -- this stack of prints just needed a background and one more green.

Tip #2 -- iron the fabrics at home before the workshop!
It means you will be ready to cut with the teacher and won't lose valuable time (which you have paid for with cash) just ironing.
Besides, your iron is probably better than the classroom iron!
Skipping the ironing step isn't the answer either -- wrinkled rumpled fabric is the first step to inaccurate cutting results.

Tip #3 -- know the machine you take to class really well and make sure it works!!!
When I was a Bernina dealer, most of my students owned Berninas (bless them) and I could help them with machine problems but these days, NO CAN DO!!
Look at my machine!?!
It's a 30 year old mechanical machine -- I have no clue how to do most of the things your computerized machine does!
I don't want you to be frustrated but I'm not going down that road with you.
Tip #4 -- Use your rotary cutter like a grown-up!
This is my number 1 complaint about students.
First make sure you have a working blade.
When it's not cutting on the mat, CLOSE IT!!!
You are a danger to yourself and everyone around you if you are sloppy about this.
More rotary accidents happen in workshops and as a teacher, I give students one "free pass" before I confiscate cutters -- you have to buy them back from me -- $10 a pop!!
(And nurses are the worst!?!)
Do not cut under your wrist or towards yourself!!
Why do I even need to say that?
Marti taught me to use a small rotary mat on top of my large one so I could always rotate my work into the safest cutting position.  These little mats (about 6" by 8") cost $5 or less.
If you cut with your right hand, you should always be cutting on the right side or across the top of a tool and vice versa for lefties.
Tip #5 -- Since you paid for the class, why don't you try the techniques and ideas the teacher is sharing?  Pay careful attention to the demonstrations and take some of your own notes. 
My quilt making skills were built a little here and a little there with ideas I learned from other teachers.  I may think "my way" is better, but I need to try "their way", too -- just in case.
Don't chain piece?  I teach it in every workshop because it's one of the keys to my efficiency so I hope students who don't already chain will try it out and let me help them make it their own.
Tip #6 -- Keep up during the workshop.
If the teacher wants you to move onto the next step, do it even if you don't have all the pieces done.
You are there to learn, not finish a project.
The teacher has planned a time-line for the workshop designed to teach all the steps.
If you don't move onto each step with her, it might be hard to pick up again at home.

Okay, that sort of became a rant, didn't it?!?
If you always close your cutter and come to class with all the supplies and pressed fabric, thank you!

To the rest of you -- come on.
Better preparation is a good investment and worth it!!

See you in a workshop??