Friday, January 29, 2010

Paintbox Quilt-A-Long

I'm participating in Oh, Fransson's Paintbox Quilt-A-Long. I ordered Kona roll-ups (which look like these, but were different colors) in several different colors from Fabric Depot when they were on mega-sale, but by the time I placed my order, they were temporarily out of stock. Lucky for me, they came back into stock, but I started out a bit behind.

The paintbox quilt blocks are supposed to be monochromatic with a solid and a print fabric in each block. I don't have enough print fabrics in my stash to make this work, which is the second reason I was behind. I didn't want to go out and buy new fabrics for this quilt because TD already thinks I have a fabric addiction.

And then, in steps my fabulous quilting friend CJ! She had ordered a bunch of fat quarters of various batik fabrics for me for Christmas. Apparently they took a while to get here, then I didn't see her for a bit, but we finally got together for a happy hour recently. I decided that they would be perfect for the paintbox quilt.

Here's the fabrics I'm working with, matched with solids from my Kona roll.

It's an interesting selection of colors, really. I'm not 100% sure how I like all the pairings, but some of them make me very happy.

The paintbox quilt instructions call for 40 different prints and 40 different solids. I don't have 40 different batiks, so I decided to use each batik twice paired with two different solid colors. I tried to use as wide a variety of solid colors as possible to get the "paintbox" look, which is supposed to be fairly rainbow-y.

Here's what my completed blocks look like right now. The goal is to complete 8 blocks per week. The week prior to January 11 was week 1. That means that by February 1 (this coming Monday - 4 sewing days from now), I should have completed 32 blocks. Right now, I have 16 blocks, so I'm halfway there.

So why do some of the blocks have black in them?
Well, sadly, this is due to a quilt fail on my part. The instructions said to cut the solid fabrics into strips 1.25" wide. I read that as 1.75" wide. This isn't a problem until the very last set of strips. They're just not quite long enough, and I don't have enough of the solid colors left to cut new strips.

I do have extra batik fabric, which meant that those blocks turned out as planned. I just couldn't bring myself to recut all the strips I'd already cut, so I had to come up with a something else. I was planning on sashing the blocks with black anyhow (I love the way bright colors look with a black background), so I decided that I'd just replace the too-short solid strips with black and not do a sashing. Or maybe I'll just do a sashing across the quilt and turn all those blocks with black edges so that they're upright so it will look like a complete sashing. Regardless, it's going to be substantially different than everyone else's paintbox quilt. Well, I wouldn't want to be too ordinary.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Does this mean that both our wishes won't come true?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Terrarium Class

My friend C and I took a class in terrarium building today at the Portland Nursery. It wasn't quite what I expected, but it was fun and we came home with little decorative terrariums with tiny things in them.

Sadly, one of the mushrooms seems to have fallen to its death in the second picture.

Divine Hat

I was at Jo-Ann Fabrics the other day because I had a 50% off one item coupon and I wanted to get a set of knitting needles. I'd found the needles I wanted online, but they didn't have them in the store (disappointing). It seemed silly to leave without using my coupon at all, so I decided to get a skein of yarn.

I ended up choosing a lovely yarn for a hat pattern I found on It worked up very fast and was a fun pattern that didn't require a lot of brain cells to figure out. Here's the finished divine hat with the band from the yarn.

Here it is seen with more light. All the color variations are in the one skein of yarn. The background color is black, but there are places in the yarn that are very bright while other places are totally black. It was a very neat yarn color-wise to work with. It's a boucle, so it's quite a bumpy yarn. It worked very well for this pattern because it doesn't require that you locate every stitch - most of the stitches are made between 2 stitches rather than actually in a stitch.


Portland nursery had a 30% off sale on pots and houseplants. I love my
new fern and its pretty pot. It's going in the living room on the
small table between our two couches.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Crocheted socks

I like crafts involving string. Always have. My mother taught me to crochet when I was a pretty little kid; my first few projects looked like they were crocheted by nest-building rats. I remember riding in the car (on vacation somewhere, possibly?) and crocheting. I would make my mom do the second row because that's the hardest one. I'd do the first row, hand it off, then finish up whatever fabulous (often triangular) project I was making.

Fast forward ... we'll say .. several years. It'd been a while since I crocheted anything of consequence, but apparently it's like riding a bike. You get it out of storage, pump up the tires, then fall off a couple of times while you remember exactly how this thing works.

This brings us to the matter of project selection. There's really only a certain number of scarves that any one person can utilize. I mean, once you've gifted scarves to everyone you know, what do you DO with any more? Because I've also taken up quilting, making afghans seemed like somewhat of a duplication of effort. And really, I like my quilted blankets a heck of a lot more than I ever liked crocheted ones (too many air holes). I found an awesome book of crocheted hats at the fabric store and my best school friend bought it for me. However, there is also a limit on hat-usage which is similar to that on scarf-usage.

Considering the matter further, I decided on socks. Socks are an excellent project. They're small, so they finish up quickly which leaves one with a feeling of having actually accomplished something. They are something that one individual (say, myself) can actually rationalize having many pairs of. They are also something that everyone uses, so I can give them out as gifts.

I started with regular worsted weight yarn. This is really too thick to make socks unless you want to wear them sort of as slippers. They are also fairly textured on the bottom because the yarn is so thick, which makes them fairly unique to walk on.

Then, I discovered sock yarn. Even having crocheted for my entire life, I didn't realize there was such a thing as sock yarn. Apparently knitting socks has become quite popular recently, too... there's TONS of different options. I got several sock yarns and took off with them.

I started with this pattern. I'm using it mostly unmodified although the instructors for starting the heel make NO sense to me. I had to toss out that part and just mark where I want the center of the heel to be. I tried it a couple of times and even read through all the comments, but just couldn't get it to work.

Here's one of my pairs of socks, with the back of the dog at the top to make the socks look more colorful and attractive. I love the way the color looks almost like it's stripey on each sock. And the stripes match!

Then, another picture which shows the color a bit better.

This was some brand of Sox yarn. It's quite thin, which means that it doesn't feel like walking on marbles. They fit well, except the heel is maybe a little wide. I'm going to work on that in later sock editions.

I have several other sock yarns that I'm going to work up in the near future.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A scrappy quilt

One of the things that my father and I have in common is that, as a first step in developing new hobbies, we buy books and read them. However, the internet now gives me immediate access to more hobby-related knowledge than I can shake a stick at. I learned most of what I know about quilting from reading blogs and I taught myself to knit the other night by watching youtube videos.

One of the quilting blogs that I found early on was I was really struck by the idea that I'd paid as much per yard for my scraps as I had for the pieces I cut out of them. I'm also on a mega-kick to try to reduce my environmental impact, so the idea of NOT throwing those little pieces away really hit home.

I started sewing them together randomly, based on this Quiltville tutorial and several similar things that I saw on now-unremembered blogs. It was AWESOME. I didn't have to worry about perfectly cutting or piecing things. I just got to pick out fabrics and sew them together. Additionally, each time I picked up a fabric, I got to remember where it came from and if it had a history.

I made a bunch of blocks, then assembled them all into this quilt:

The sashing is plain black cotton and the blocks at the intersections are various pieces of the fabrics that I used in the scrap blocks. The borders have the same fabrics in them as well.

I didn't want to buy yardage for the back of the quilt, so I rummaged about and came up with several totally unrelated fabrics that all happened to have black in them. Good enough. I had to creatively piece them together in order to make a section large enough to cover the back. Good thing that I had made extra scrap blocks for the back section.

You can't see the patterns on these backing fabrics very well in this picture, but the center piece is a geometric pattern, bordered by a print with sewing tools above and school supplies below. The next print on either side is an awful large flower print, but it actually went pretty well with the others. These are bordered by brightly colored fish below and a text-based multicolored design that says "craft". Really the ONLY thing these fabrics have in common is that they have a black background. However, once they were all together, I loved them. So does my mother, who got this quilt for Christmas.

Sadly, pictures taken with my cell phone don't seem to display this quilt to it's best advantage. It's much brighter and more exciting in person.

Genetic influence on crafting abilities

My father recently took a road trip through the Southwestern states. While he was there, he admired many Navaho blankets / rugs / etc. When he came home, he bought a book on Navaho weaving, built a loom, and started production.

I think it's totally awesome.

Flannel Leaf Quilt

One night, as I was laying in bed daydreaming about quilting things (um, yes. I do this. Fairly frequently, actually), I had a brilliant idea. I could use batik fabric to make fall-colored leaves, then quilt the veins and the stems. On a black background, the colors of the batiks would really stand out and look awesome.

I made no progress on the idea until CJ and I went to a quilt show in Vancouver. We walked in and were immediately distracted by shiny things. $45 later, we turned around and LO! there was a book with *batik flannel*! I mean, what could be better? It's BATIK! AND it's flannel!

I ended up spending a lot of money at this booth. First, I bought a set of fat quarters that were in fall leaf colors. I coveted a quilt kit made of other, more brightly colored batik flannels, but managed to hold off on buying it. I managed to hold off on buying it for HOURS. It was, in fact, the last thing that I bought before leaving the quilt show.

But this post is not about that quilt (which I haven't started yet) - it's about my batik flannel fall leaf quilt.

Upon searching for a leaf pattern, I discovered that my falling leaf idea is far from unique. However, I have yet to see it executed in batik flannel, so I think I'm still ahead of the game.

This is the overall plan I came up. It with alternates large and small leaves in a black background with the leaves rotated various directions so as to make them look like they're blowing around. The large leaves are 9"x9", while the small leaves are 6"x6" with a black border to bring them up to 9". The colored squares around the outside will be a random mix of all the batiks used in the leaves.

This is roughly what the I have planned for the quilting inside and outside the leaves. I want the background quilting in the black to be sort of reminiscent of blowing wind and I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet... but since I haven't even finished the quilt top yet, I'm not too worried.

Here are the leaves that I have finished so far. The colors don't show very well (it's a cell phone picture); they're MUCH brighter in person. My favorites are the lower-right leaf and the middle-top leaf. They're a bright orange-with-red batik that has darker reddish sections. It looks the most "fall leafy" to me. I also really like the yellow-and-green leaves. The other ones will make fabulous background leaves and allow the bright ones to really stand out. I haven't sewn any of the small leaves yet.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tiny hats

I'm making tiny hats to donate to the hospital for premature babies. This is one of my smallest hats being worn by a wii remote (for scale).

This is the current collection of tiny hats. The hat seen in the previous picture on the Wii remote is the hat on the far right of the picture.

The yellow-orange yarn is something that I got for 50% off because the label had fallen off of it. It's very soft, but I don't know what's in it. The multi-colored yarn is sock yarn. I have a pair of socks I crocheted in that same yarn, which are awesome. I'll post about them later.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Valentine's Pillow

I bought three quilting magazines recently. I read through them. Then I read through each of them again. Then I paged through and looked at the pretty pictures. I scrutinized the quilting. I perused the ads. I looked through them before bed. I've had each of them several weeks now and have probably gone through each of them 8 or 10 times. I feel that I've gotten my money's worth.

I decided that I wanted to make a Valentine's pillow for my Grandmother. She doesn't really need any pillows, but I just gave her a quilt for Christmas, so I needed another idea. A pillow seemed relatively easy - a small-scale project. I got a pillow form and decided to make a removable case so that I could make other cases for other holidays.

I had originally picked out a pieced and quilted design (it was a heart with flowers coming out the top), then I saw this quilt in one of my quilting magazines. It's
an applique design, which I haven't done much of. However, one of the blocks seemed like it would make an excellent Valentine's pillow, without being TOO heart-y or red-and-pink. I had ordered some Steam-A-Seam, which I had seen a lot of and tried out at a quilt expo that my quilting friend CJ and I went to. It's pretty easy to use. It's sticky on one side, so it doesn't move around when you're trying to cut out the fabric to be appliqued. After positioning it on the background fabric, it permanently irons on and doesn't need to be additionally sewn on around the edges. I was skeptical of this last bit and planned to sew around the edges anyhow. Turns out that I didn't need to. They're totally glued down. Turns out that's a good thing because most of the pieces are pretty small. If I'd had to zig-zag around the edges, I think I would have lost some of the definition of the shapes or the edges would have looked frayed.

The only problem was that the hearts in the pattern are larger than the sheets of fusible web. I had to do the hearts separately as two halves, then stick them together on the fabric. The stickiness of the fusible web helped immensely, but when I tried it the first time, I cut two of the same side of the heart. It's only sticky on one side, so that wasn't going to work. It was also slightly difficult to get both ends to line up because the web can distort slightly as you pull on it. That doesn't seem to have affected my finished product, though.

Here's my end result. I echo quilted around the heart (which took WAY longer than I thought it was going to. Who knew it was so time consuming to go around a heart over and over? I made tiny little loop-d-loops inside the heart around the strawberries. It sort of makes the strawberries, stems and leaves look puffed out, which I like. The stems are a very tiny little weird slanted zig-zag that my machine does. I didn't have any green embroidery floss and didn't want to buy a whole thing of it just for this project.

The ruffle was sort of a pain in the ass. I had originally envisioned it as being entirely red. However, I was using fabric I had purchased as remnants for the entire project and the red piece I had was too small. If I had made the ruffles narrow enough so that I could have made the correct length, they would have been much more narrow than I wanted them. I decided to use the rest of the blue remnant as well. I like the way it turned out color-wise. I also was reminded why I don't often sew ruffles on things - the gathering and the sewing and the pinning and the resewing... it's a bit irritating.

All-in-all a success.

A Scattered Squee, it is.

I like the idea of blogging. I enjoy putting thoughts "out there" in the world, whether or not someone actually reads them. It's a very freeing exercise. However, that's not the major reason that I decided to start a blog.

I'm getting back in touch with my creative side. After way too long of doing (and being) school, both as a student and as a teacher, I finally have a schedule that allows me time off. When I've had time off before, I feel like I've wasted a lot of it. I spent a good deal of ti
me sitting on my butt and dicking around on the internet. "Dicking around" in this instance is defined as "several hours of activity that produce no useful result and can't even be accurate described to someone else because of their entirely limited range of accomplishment."

I decided, when I quit my job teaching high school, that I wasn't going to d
o that anymore. That might have been slightly ambitious. I still spend a good quantity of time dicking around online. However, I'm trying to temper that with actually accomplishing things. To that end, I've taken up several hobbies:
1. Quilting.
2. Crochet / knitting
3. Canning
4. Tie-dye

This is in addition to my activities involving my family of furries:

6 Degu - Dora, Imogene and Isabelle are pictured above. Kitten, Deja and Vu were later additions and are not pictured.

Rags, my faithful mutt. I've had him for roughly 10 years. He's about 12.

The Chin, the most recent addition to the family. Apparently there's some deeper meaning to her name because it relates to some movie or webcomic or something. I just thought it was that we were totally uncreative when it came to naming animals and should probably never be trusted naming a child.

"We" includes myself and my boyfriend, TD. We live together in slightly organized chaos with the furrballs. Our two bedroom apartment has one bedroom for us and one bedroom for the rodents. The dog's "bedroom" is his crate, which sits by the bed. It's covered with a blanket (to make it cozy for him) and several random shelves we had lying around (to make it into a bedside table for TD).

The area formerly known as the dining area has been converted into my crafting area. Right now, the kitchen table is roughly half covered with fabric, pattern pieces, and sewing implements of mass destruction. The reason that it's not entirely covered is that TD has this silly idea that meals (especially dinner) should be eaten at the kitchen table. I cater to this delusion by cleaning one end of the table off at dinner time so we can eat.

Back to the reason I am starting this blog. I need a record for my creative endeavors. Based on what I know about my attention span, I should be able to remember what projects I've completed for about 3 days. I can remember details such as ingredients or patterns or who got a project as a gift for about a half hour. If I want any sort of crafting institutional memory, it has to be written down. And I've lost the ability to write legibly since college, so "written down" actually means "typed".

For instance, I made several different types of pear jam (I do remember that they all had pears in them). I know I made plain pear jam. That one's easy. The raspberry pear jam and the cranberry pear jam were also both easy to identify: raspberry seeds and cranberry seeds look different from each other and also from pears. Then I made a mystery jam. It's basically a pear jam, but it has raisins in it. I remember boiling the raisins in wine, then draining them and adding them to the jam. I have a vague memory that there were supposed to be spices added to the jam, but that I forgot them. Or maybe I didn't. I don't really recall... after all, it was the fourth type of pear jam I made that day. At the time I thought, "I don't need to put labels on these right now, there's only four of them. I'll remember what they are." Yeah. Right. Now I have Mystery Possibly Unspiced Raisin Pear Jam. I can't find the recipe for it in any of my canning books. That means I probably found the recipe online... which means it could be ANYWHERE. If I'd blogged about it, I would know what it was. I might even be able to figure out if I had, in fact, left out important spices.

So that's the point. Create memory of things that I do and create so that I remember what I've done. Enjoy.