WIP Wednesday

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and to the Small Blog meet-up at Lily’s Quilts. If you’re stopping by for the first time, you might be interested in learning more about me, or in looking at my finished quilts. If you’re interested in any particular kind of project, check out the tags in the lower right sidebar.

This is a remarkably picture-poor post, largely because it’s a to-do-list of the various projects I have in progress right now. Never let it be said that I’m a monogamous crafter? Projects are arranged in (sort of) order of least-work-to-be-finished.

General To-Do List:
-Tape a large piece of batting up on the tops of my two really tall bookcases and pin things to it, in an attempt to create something that sort of resembles a design wall
-Clean crafting stuff off my desk so it’s actually usable for schoolwork.
-Likewise clear books out of crafting space so I can actually sew w/out moving piles of stuff.

Test-Drive Mabel Bag To-Do List:
-Be proud of inside pockets and the fact that the lining actually (mostly) fits inside the exterior of the bag.
-Attach strap and strap extender once bag hardware arrives in the mail
-Sew around the opening, matching lining to bag outsides
-Turn it inside out to end up rightside out & sew up lining bottom
-Iron (and maybe topstitch?) for a finished, professional look

Mini Dresden To-Do List:
-Back of mini Dresden quilt: alternating tumblers in a variety of fabrics across a brown background: figure out the right size of tumbler
-Finish the corner fans of the mini-Dresden quilt, and arrange so that they will look all right after binding
-Binding of mini Dresden quilt: probably in a darker brown, but possibly in a scrappy series of colors. I’m torn between wanting to make it more cheerful and wanting the focus really to snap to the middle medallions
-Quilt & appliqué!

Simple Math To-Do List:
-Finish trimming all blocks from 6-and-almost-a-half-ish-inches to 6″ square
-Re-jigger design to figure out yardage needed to make a double-bed quilt out of slightly smaller blocks
-Pick out sashing & binding fabric (next week, with L, hopefully!)
-Cut sashing
-Piece a scrappy border, alternating white and blue
-Piece entire top (ugh!)
-Figure out backing for the quilt (!?!?!)
-Sandwich, quilt, bind
-Give to mom on October 18

Kitchen Window To-Do List:
-Cut the black 1 1/2″ strips for the “frames”
-Order more Kelly green and cut green strips for “borders”
-Cut about a dozen more organizing cards, number all 36 of them from 1-36
-Start laying out all 36 blocks, figuring out which ones need to be oriented vertically and which horizontally
-Piece blocks
-Arrange blocks on (hopefully!) “design wall”
-Piece top & figure out backing and binding
-Baste, quilt, bind

Knitting To-Do List:
-Subway socks (Malabrigo Monkeys)
-Red NaNo Sweater started in *cough* 2010: finish arms, finish torso. Yes, it’s fiddly cables: suck it up and knit it already.
-Modern Baby Blanket: finish while watching Olympics. Hope I have enough yarn.
-Finish the legs of those red socks already. Give them to mom on October 18.

Spinning To-Do List:
-Get cracking on that yarn for mom’s sweater. Finish it up by December, for a Christmas present.
-Spin exclusively from stash: maybe some merino/yak? Or the lovely greens from MA Sheep&Wool.

Blocks of the Month, halfway done.

Hooray for holiday long-weekends: I was able to catch up on the Half-Square Triangle Block of the Month Quilt Along last week. I finished second blocks for January through May and made one block each for June and July — then I ran out of squares of white fabric and had to stop. Poor packing — next time I’ll know better.

These are my January blocks:

These are the February blocks:

These are the March blocks:

These are the April blocks:

This is my second May block: (the first one is still not fixed)

This is my first June block:

This is my first July block:

A number of the points on the blocks aren’t matched as precisely as they might be — it’s visible in the June block, for example. It’s true of a number of the second blocks, which has a lot to do with having sewn them on the Singer 66, with a little less attention to spare for making sure everything lines up, since I’m concentrating on treadling, too.

I’m not a hundred percent happy with the make-up/final appearance of all of the blocks, but I’ve been regarding this quilt-along as a learning process in selecting fabrics. There are some blocks I’m particularly happy with: the all-solid January block and the July block are favorites of mine right now. I’ll have to see how it all comes out in the end. :)

It seems appropriate to link up to WIP Wednesday today, given that this project is almost exactly halfway done: I’ve got twelve of my final twenty-four HST blocks.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Other works-in-progress that I’m working on (or planning, but haven’t cut just yet) are a knitting bag for a friend, using the Perk Me Up fat quarter bundle, which just about yelled her name at me when I saw it. I’ll be using this pattern, with the modification of adding both an inner, zipped divider pocket as in the orange example in the linked post, and a set of flat pockets for knitting needles and other tools, along one of the inner walls of the bag.

I made two Dresden wheels of the coffee fabric — at first I thought I’d applique one onto the bag, but that idea died a swift death. Now I’m thinking about putting together a mini quilt for the EZ Dresden Challenge, with three wheels on the front, one larger and two smaller. I would have pictures, but it was dark by the time I finished the second one on Tuesday evening.

I was going to try to make a large (queen sized) Dresden quilt for the EZ Dresden Challenge, but I decided that trying to make, quilt, bind and finish a queen-sized Dresden quilt by August 31st when I have class, volunteer work, a MA thesis to finish, and plans to go to Europe for eleven days in August (though it’s not set in stone — I don’t have tickets yet…) — well, I figured trying to shove in a complicated queen-sized quilt on top of that was a little bit crazytown.

Still, these are 16 of the 20 colors I’ll use, when I do start that quilt, which I will in September:
Blue Brown Dresden trial wheel

In the meantime, last night I cut up some red Cosmo Cricket Circa 1934 and some off-white Kona cotton to put together a Film Strip / Little Plates quilt — inspired by Books Bound’s recent baby quilt, which is based on Crazymomquilts’s Film Strip quilt. I also looked a little bit at the pattern in Elizabeth Hartman’s Practical Guide to Patchwork, which pairs prints with prints in some blocks. I’ve been looking for a pattern that has comparatively large pieces of fabric, to show off the typewriter keys and the larger numbers of the Circa 1934 prints, and this looks like it’ll be fun. It also looks like it’ll be a fast project, which is something I’m really looking for — for some reason I’ve been itching for a finish for the last few days.

Tobin’s Mixtape: Finished!

My new free-motion quilting foot arrived in the mail last week, all metal and (so far) much sturdier. I had Friday off, and took advantage of the time to organize my fabric stash and finish up my Mixtape Quilt, from Elizabeth Hartman’s pattern. I made the “Favorite Songs” style, in its largest size: the lap-quilt of 8″ blocks, which ended up 62″/62″. All posts about it can be seen by clicking the “mixtape quilt” tag on the right sidebar.

I had already quilted about half of it (before my previous free-motion foot broke) and started on it with the previously quilted sides neatly rolled and folded to keep them out of my way. I did my best to keep it all in neat place so that it was smaller, which did make it a little easier to move around, though it was surprisingly heavy.

But by about halfway through today’s quilting, I had given up on keeping the outer edges folded, and only rolled the edge that was under the sewing machine’s arm. I got a little bit better at manipulating the quilt as I went along, and at figuring out where to place my hands while I was moving it — left hand to the back and left of the needle, right hand right and slightly to the front (that is, closer to me), moving in tandem. I think the quilting of it improved a bit by the end. Overall, I’m very proud of it: it’s the first thing I’ve ever free-motion quilted, and it’s the largest quilt I’ve made so far, at 62″x62″. It could be a bit awkward to do something larger than this, because it got difficult to manipulate too closely with half the quilt folded up under the arm of the machine.

Once I’d quilted all of it and trimmed the borders, I machine bound it in one of the fabrics I used in the quilt. It’s a slightly heavier weight than some of the other fabrics, which may stand up to wear and tear a little bit better than a lighter fabric. Since this quilt is going to a 3-year-old boy, durability is definitely a concern.

Once I’d finished it, I tried to take a picture indoors. That was … not entirely successful: I had to hang it up over the railing and take a picture from the stairs. It ended up being a bit of an odd angle:

Thankfully, it was beautiful outside, so I took it out to the back yard, and hung it from the back porch:


It may be feverishly hot outside today, but it made for nice picture-taking.

I’m so pleased to have finished this project, and I can’t wait to see the look on my friend’s face when I give it to her and her son.

A little bag, but a not-so-little choice of fabric

I’m considering submitting this little bag to the next round of the My Precious Quilt-Along, because it took a pretty ridiculous effort to get these fabrics off the shelf. “Surely I can use another fat quarter or something less pretty!” my mind wailed. “Not those ones!”

Minaret bag 1

But, no. These are two of the fabrics from Lizzy House’s 1001 Peeps collection, which I bought when I first started quilting, and which I’ve been having a hard time getting myself to cut into.

The My Precious QAL is brilliant: it got me to actually use the fabrics I bought because I like them, instead of just staring at them in the hopes that they’ll stay where they are forever! I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy them to have them gather dust, no matter how much the little grabby-hands part of me may disagree.

Minaret bag open top

I like the ways the fabrics work together, and I’m probably going to end up making another bag from this pattern. This one is already on its way to a friend, and it was a lot of fun to put together. The pattern is by Jeni of In Color Order, and she posted recently about a modification to add pockets. Both sets of instructions were beautifully clear and easy to follow.

* * *

In non-quilting news, knitting on the subway has netted me half a sock this week, going to and from classes (in Manhattan) and study sessions (in the Bronx), but that’s about all. I’m taking two Latin classes this summer, one in June (classical Latin) and one in July (medieval Latin), and this past week I’ve spent what feels like a lot of time studying for my Latin final exam, which is this evening. I just hope it’s enough.

And hopefully the instructor will give us Cicero or Nepos, not Caesar. Wish me luck!

Mixtape quilt: zig-zag free motion quilting

I have the house to myself this weekend, which means I was free to set up my sewing machine on the kitchen table for Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday where I’d have plenty of space to move the quilt around and manipulate it, in addition to the benefit of being able to sit at a normal height table. (My usual setup is on a coffee table, which isn’t quite ideal for long stretches of sewing.)

Kitchen setup

I made my way through 1/6th of the quilt before my free-motion quilting foot snapped my needle, and I spent the next few blocks of it keeping a sharp eye on the foot, as it gradually got chipped away by the needle going up and down. I had to cut away part of the clear foot to keep the needle from breaking again, which worked for only a little while longer.

Walking foot2

Then the foot skewed even further, and it became clear that this just wasn’t going to work: the shaft of it was cracked.

Walking foot

I got approximately halfway through the quilt, rolling it up on one side as I went along.

Rolled quilt

But I only got about halfway through the quilt before the foot broke entirely. I won’t be buying this brand again: it was a waste of time and money. (For the record, if anyone else wants to avoid it, it was this one, which I bought on Amazon.com)

Still, I’m pretty happy with the quilting so far: it looks like I basted well enough to avoid puckering. The recipient asked for zig-zag lines, which I think are working out all right. Seeing as it’s the first time I’ve ever free-motion quilted anything, I’m not unhappy with it — just with the photography today.

Quilting detail

Conferencing is tiring!

Things have been quiet because I’ve spent the last four days at the RBMS pre-conference, which is the annual conference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association. (I’m in grad school for medieval history right now, but I just finished library school, and I want to be a librarian, not a professor.)

There were panels and discussions and round-tables and plenary sessions and a technology petting zoo and a booksellers’ display and receptions and time to go out for lunch and dinner with colleagues, and almost 400 other people who think that rare books and special collections libraries and materials are the best thing ever. It was a blast.

I noticed one or two other people knitting, but mine never made its way out of the hotel room: there was just too much going on!

Now that I’m waiting in the airport, I’m knitting armwarmers for a friend. When I finish those (and I will) I’ll go back to a second sock for myself. Both projects were selected on the basis of being very small and portable, and easy enough to knit on a plane without needing a pattern.

What kinds of projects do you bring with you when you travel?

Smalls and a potential project

I made two other little pouches last week, and while I’d love to say that I intentionally made one of each type, the truth is that I went on autopilot for one of them and ended up with another little flat pouch instead of the boxy pouch I was going for. Both are appallingly pink, but they match the zippers I had on hand, which was the goal.



I also cut scraps for another set of coasters following this tutorial from In Color Order. They’re all a little bit different, because I cut them from my scrap bags, but I think they’ll turn out all right. They sort of match the potholders I forgot to photograph, and they’re going to the same home.

Finally, I think I’ve picked out my next large quilting project (which I’m not allowing myself to start cutting until I’ve quilted the Mixtape Quilt) — I’m fond of the Urban Cabin pattern, and I realized that I have two sets of fabric that might work nicely with that pattern:


I’d alternate blue Ls with brown striped blocks with brown Ls with blue striped blocks, with a white background. What do you all think? Is it too subdued and/or boring, or do you think it might work?

Something of a streak

I’ve been on something of a streak recently, making potholders from Jeni B’s tutorial.

I made two blue and two green for friends I visited in Michigan in late May, and boxed them off and shipped them before I realized I hadn’t photographed them. So you’ll have to trust me when I say they came out well. Hopefully they’ll get lots of use.

Then I made a pair for the friend I went to the MA Sheep & Wool fair with, because she liked the blue and green ones, whose loops I was sewing up when I visited her.

I used three different sizes of dots: largest on the back, smallest on the binding. I didn’t have any brown thread, so I quilted them in white. I’m not sure how I like it, but hopefully the recipient won’t be quite as much of a perfectionist as I am.

I made a second pair for someone I don’t think that I’ve ever met. I got a package in the mail about two weeks ago, with no idea what on earth it was. I sometimes half-forget about having ordered fabric, so that getting the package is a pleasant surprise, but I always recognize the package when it arrives. This package, though, was a complete mystery.

I opened it and found a book on watermarks in Rembrandt’s prints, and a note from one of my mother’s former co-workers! Apparently she ran into my mother in the city and thought I might like the book. She’s right — I love it. It has wonderful photographs of the watermarks in the paper Rembrandt used, and all kinds of information about printmaking and paper in his time period. I’m a complete old book geek, so this is excellent.

So I made a pair of black and white potholders for her, as a thank you. I’m going to mail them to her along with a copy of The Left Hand of Darkness, because apparently she’s been getting into early sci-fi recently.

I particularly like the back, because the print is very clear: