Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hail Good Fellow! A Challenge Well Met

Last few days I've been working on more blocks.  Since my woebegone post where I complained whined bitterly wept over waxed poetic about many of the cuts being in 16th of an inch, Deb from The Threadgatherer offered a bit of sage advice.  She told me I should just cut the pieces a little bit bigger and then cut them down to size when done.  I know this will really make me sound stupid, but you have to remember, math is NOT my first language.  I actually have to LOOK at a ruler to remember that 2-16ths are an eighth of an inch.  DUH!  When I was finally able to wrap my head around "bigger might be better" I realized that we're only talking about an additional 1/16th of an inch - scissor width as I said.  Well, Deb was right - I have been doing much better since.

I knocked out these:

Criss Cross 1

Criss Cross 2


Wandering Lover
The "Economy" block is just like the blocks that I was doing for my own quilt "Julia's Ribbons" (still unfinished).  Wandering Lover was made easier by making speedy half square triangles.

Then I moved on to:

Bear Claw



Drunkard's Path
Dog is applique.  The ear was supposed to be down, on the head, but I thought it looked better up where it is.  House was not easy.  And I made an cutting error that is bugging the heck out of me.  I may yet replace that piece.  I have never successfully done a Drunkard's Path block.  Curved piecing!!!  I actually cut these pieces using a rotary cutter and then practiced sewing a few together.  I was in the right church, but not exactly the right pew.  So, I watched a Fons & Porter video on their website.  Seeing the video made it much easier to understand where I was going wrong.  From then on out, I was definitely sitting in the front pew.  I like to call this one "Rosey Path".  Ha!  Like that's probably never been done before! 

Then there was Album.  The directions were to cut out a bazillion fussy little 1/16th whatever triangles.  And I said, oh *&^% NO!  I remembered Deb's advice - make big and cut down.  So, Instead of triangles, I cut out squares.  And the required rectangles, of course.  Then sewed them all up and here's what I had -

A huge block!  And then I cut it down to size -

And got all those fussy little triangles without any sweat.  Easy peesy!  Thanks so much Deb, I really appreciated the help - and the confidence building.

With these blocks I've completed Chapters 1832 and 1850.  I've made more progress on the Opus Magnusson border, but no picture because it's just the same old, same old.  Off to get started on the 1852 blocks now!  Hope you enjoyed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Opus Magnusson May Progress

I've been so busy stitching on Opus Magnusson, that I think I'm giving myself tennis elbow.  Ouch! 

Pardon the awful lighting on this picture.  We had long running thunderstorms last night, that followed two days of steady rain.  The skies are already clouding up and I understand our chances are good for severe weather today; although I think flooding is the biggest concern.  Anyway, this overall picture will show you what I was talking about doing with simplifying the border.

Boy, this takes a lot of floss.  I am using two strands over two threads and one pair gets me 132 stitches.  That is one and most of the next of those trefoil backgrounds.  Now I've finished the fill in, I'll roll up to the next section and do the black "work" before continuing to fill in.  The overly green black floss I told you about before is working out well.

I decided what I wanted to do behind the stag's antlers.  You can see above, but perhaps better below, that I've put in a constellation and crescent moon.  The constellation is Ursa Minor, or the Little Dipper.  Polaris, the north star, is just to the left of the stag's ear and I stitched it differently to make it stand out a bit more.  I know it's not easy to see; mainly because of the thread color and the glare, but hopefully I can get a better picture when I'm done. 

I talked to my quilt client yesterday and she's good with the quilt not being exactly the same size as in the book.  That gives me some wiggle room on those blocks that are giving me fits with the 1/16th inch cuts.  Whew!  So that's what I'm going to spend my day working on today - blocks.  Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Path to the Civil War Update

Lately in the shop I've been working on the Path to the Civil War quilt commission.  I've managed to complete six blocks now.  Well, maybe only five.  I'll explain that in a minute.  First, I'm going to review the book/pattern.  This is not something that I normally do, but this book/pattern has really got me burning to spout off my opinion.

First of all, it is well photographed and the historical text is amazing.  It would be a good book to teach ages 10 to 12 about the Civil War and what led up to it.  The quilt blocks are striking which is what, I think, got my client interested in having a quilt just like it.  It's the directions that make my brain hurt.  Some of these pieces are to be cut at 16ths of an inch.  As someone I was recently talking to pointed out, that's a scissor width.  Even with our rotary cutters and fabulous rulers, that is a pain in the ass to cut out - especially since most quilting rulers only go down to 1/8 inch.  I have spent a great deal of time redrafting all of the blocks I've stitched so far to eliminate that fussy cutting.  That's time I may or may not get paid for since I've already committed myself to an estimate which I cannot exceed by more than 10%.  Kinda sucks.  So, anyway, be warned.  If you are looking for a challenge, by all means, this might be the book for you.  If not, move on to something with directions that are more well written.

The first block I did was by-the-book.  The block is called North and South; two pieces were to be cut to 16ths.  And I did that.  The block ended up being smaller than the 9.5 called for.  I left the corner pieces off (I later realized).  Probably because my mind was so numb from trying to piece this thing - there are 41 pieces in the block.  Nuf said.  I added "cheddar" around the outside which will blend in with the sashing and hopefully the block will not stand out like a sore thumb because then I will have to stitch it again. 

Next came Bow Tie which was fairly straight forward.

Then Ohio Star.  Generally the directions in this book tell you to cut triangles.  There is none of that "save time by"... kind of sewing in this book.  So I used Fons & Porter's method for making half square triangles and modified it to make the Ohio Star block.  They say if you want a bunch of half square trianges, you take 2 times the finished size of the square you need and then add 1.75 inches.  So, basically you take a big block - I think that this one ended up being about 8 inches and you mark it up and sew this way and that like this . . . .

Here you can see how the lines are drawn on the square, from each corner and at the horizontal and vertical midlines.  Then I had to bisect from the corners, each of the four quadrants that had been drawn.  Finally, I stitched 1/4 inch away from the lines, twice making an on-point square within a square.  You have to remember, my goal was not to achieve half triangle squares, just something easier than cutting up a bunch of little triangles.  This method helped me in two ways - first of all, when you put triangles through your machine, it can often get a little chewy on the tips of the triangles and mess stuff up a bit.  Also, it's just a lot of fiddly work.  This way, I'm just working with one big square, sewing two lines. 

Then I pressed the square and then I cut on all the marked lines.  Ended up with these:

 Which are triangles in two colors.  Then all I needed to do was stitch them together into square patches that looked like these:
 Which were then very easy to unite with background fabric into the Ohio Star block.

 Now this block is supposed to be repeated twice in the quilt; and I had to do the above method with two different sets of fabric.  And I did, rendering this block:

 Spot the difference?  Patches are placed wrong.  This one will have to be taken apart and reunited again.

Then I moved on to the Crossways block.  Used the Fons & Porter half triangle square method for these and it was a breeze.

 The book is written in sections of five blocks per chapter and each chapter is named after a year.  The first five came from the 1820 chapter. 

Next up is 1832 and that was started off with the Devil's Claw block.

I really love this block.  I like the graphic image and I also really like the fabric combination.  I did not love putting it together.  There are five rows and the instructions were to cut squares, rectangles and triangles.  And I'm sitting there looking at it going, those are flying geese!  So, had to figure out an easy method for flying geese.  I could not find an easy math method in any of my Fons and Porter back issues.  I am not completely incapable of figuring out math myself - it's just that it makes my head hurt.  I did finally come up with a flying geese pattern in a magazine and calculated the ratio of the square to the rectangle and how to resize the square to go with any size rectangle.  Once that was accomplished, I cut out squares and rectangles and had at sewing them together.  Now, the instructions said that the patches with the white background blocks in the middle were supposed to be four blue triangles sewn around a white square.  I chose to change that and used two flying goose units sewn together.  If I were to do it again, I'd use the square and triangles because the two flying geese together left a seam that I had to deal with by snipping on the back - and a lot of pressing.  Hopefully my quilter will not hate me later.  In the end, though, I got a really nice looking block. 

This current chapter has four fairly simple blocks left in it that I hope to tackle today.  By the end of the weekend I'm hoping to have at least this chapter and another done. 

Here are all the blocks (so far) together out in the noon sun the other day -

Here's an update on Opus Magnusson.  You can now see the outer border that I'm going to give it.  Stitching this border is mind-numbingly boring.  I keep wanting to stop and work on something else.  So, that means I have to keep slogging away; 'cause if I stop, I know it'll be difficult to go back to.

Hope you enjoyed! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gone, But Hopefully Not Forgotten?

I knew I'd had a lot on my plate these last few weeks, but could not believe it when I logged on today and saw that it's been nearly five weeks since I last posted! 

I've been working on things for customers, but also many of my own projects.  Like the "pirate quilt" for baby Gabriel.  I thought I was all finished with that last week and ran it through the wash only to have the appliques that I put on with iron-on craft adhesive fall off in the dryer!  Well, good thing I "tested" it before it sent it out.  Now, I have to find the time to applique them with hand sewing.

When last we met I was working on Opus Magnusson, the Celtic design inspired piece I'm working on for my eldest son (who just celebrated his 32nd birthday! YIKES!).  I was finished with rows 1 and 2 and had to make a start on row 3.  I had to wait for awhile to receive my shipments of Gentle Art Raven (black) which is the floss I have to use the most.  Well, this was another "good thing I . . ." because one shipment of five came and it was black, but with a LOT of green.  Which was not like the Raven I'd been using.  The second shipment came a couple weeks later and half was black with the same LOT of green, but the other half was a closer match to what I'd been using.  Now, I absolutely am not downing Gentle Art here because they always say that you should get all your thread at once because it won't always match what they're making down the road.  My problem was that although the designer gave the conversion COLORS on this chart (for Gentle Art floss), she did not give the AMOUNTS.  The second order was for 15 skeins and (remember - I'm on row 3) thank goodness!  I've been saving my tabs from the skeins so that when I'm done I can give a final account of how many skeins I actually used.  Hopefully it will help someone down the road.

Anyway, I used the skeins that matched what I'd been using to do my "coloring book" stitching on row 3 and then began filling them in.

And, of course, there were some changes.  I know, I said I wasn't going to change anything else.  But, look here - this is the original chart image -

Starting from the left, the horses mane - I was stitching the black and suddenly the horse looked more like a zebra, so I am not doing the black stripes in the mane.  The rabbits . . . I am sick and tired of that blech brown, and while I was stitching the outlines of the bunnies, all I could think about was Blue Bunny ice cream and Bunnicula.  So, MY bunnies are blue with red eyes.   Oh, and I changed the leaves on the tree a bit.  The next thing - we'll call it a dolphin, 'cause that's the only thing I can think to call it - I didn't like the posies or leaves so just put a sort-of celtic style sun over its head.  Lastly the men.  It really bothered me that they repeated from the top left corner.  So I was determined to make them be gone.  I pulled out my design books (and believe it or not, I had a Celtic drawing book in my collection from back in high school) and looked through them for inspiration.  I saw one sketch of a doe.  That got me to thinking that  not only is my son into fishing, he's also a deerslayer.  So I did the stag.  The green stuff with square swirlies behind him is meant to look like fir trees in the forest.  Does it?

Here are some close ups:

 You can see the red eyes on the bunnies here.

If you've been watching Revenge on ABC (one of MY favorite TeeVee shows along with Scandal and Mad Men), you know about the "8" on the back of the dolphin.  I also slightly changed the pattern and colors.

Here's the stag.  I haven't yet decided, but I may add something in the sky over the antlers.  Problem is, I don't know what I'd add.

The horse is going to get a circle spiral thing on it where the designer has her initials.  I just didn't like that.  In fact, I've already signed this piece in the lower right corner.   I'm not sure you can see it  in this photo, at the lower right in the border - I was really stupid and put in my initials and the year ('12) in over one - upside down!  DUH!

When you look at the chart picture, there is this fabulous border all around the whole thing.  I'm not doing that.  I am going to take a very small part of that border and do that.  It will be outlined with the black, but I'm going to use the black I got that has LOTS of green in it.  That way I'll hopefully use most of that up.  Then it will also have the green in it that is Gentle Art Tiger Lily.  I just love that green!

The other thing I've worked on is the needlepoint bird - remember I showed you the canvas I picked up?  Well, here's one side of the Blue Jay -

While I've been gone, I gathered all the information for the historical society's taxes to be prepared (thank God an accountant does that!), been a speaker at a DAR event for my chapter (they made sure NOT to tell me I had to sit up in front of everyone until we were lining up to go in!), provided sandwiches and been a hostess with my DAR chapter at a Naturalization Ceremony, designed the web page for my DAR chapter (not up yet), gotten the taxes for my family done (we were quite surprised that we had to pay this year - there went my furniture money!), my husband's landed a new job that he starts in about ten days (with a significantly shorter commute) and I've finally processed all our flex spend claims for the last year (before he leaves his current company) and we adopted a new member into the Family.  My garden is still a catastophe!  And the grass in the front yard needs mowed, but we're doing really, really well.

If you are the slightest bit queasy about mice, - especially dead ones - don't look at the next picture!

My son and I found this little guy outside out house a week ago.  We have a lot of feral cats in the area, but none will approach us.  This little guy did.  He was a Starvin Marvin and we brought him inside and gave him some tuna.  Within about an hour we'd decided he had to stay.  Buddy, the golden retriever, was none too sure about that.  For the first few days we kept Sebastian in a kitty carrier so that Buddy wouldn't eat him.  Then, with my husband and son out of town and the house quiet, I decided that I'd give communal living a try.  Poor Buddy got clawed in the nose once, and that's all it took.  He gives Sebastian a wide berth now.

We live in the country and we're the only house in our area.  Consequently, we get mice.  Thankfully, I'm not squeemish about them.  In fact, I welcome the black snakes that come into the basement, because I know they're not there to eat me, they're there to get the mice.  But I have long wondered what it would be like if we had a cat.  Sunday morning, I found out.  There was a bumping and thumping in the hallway at 6 in the morning and I came out to see Sebastian rolling on the floor.  Initially it looked like he was chasing his tail, but then this object went sailing through the air, he caught it and was rolling on the floor again.  I got close enough to see that it was a mouse - a dead one.  Probably the same one that had given me the stink-eye on the kitchen counter Sunday a week ago!!!  That'll teach him!  And I told Sebastian that his place in the household was now secure.  Hope you enjoyed!