Monday, April 29, 2013

Allegro Wrap Mystery Crochet-a-long

Do you like to crochet?  Want to do something different with my hand-dyed yarns?  You've come to the right place!

Melinda Miller, an amazing crochet designer and I are teaming up to bring you a Crochet-a-long.  We thought it would be fun to do a mystery CAL. We can tell you that it's a wrap, and you can get a sneaky peak by looking at the picture above, but the rest is a mystery.  Everybody loves a mystery, especially a pretty one!

Here are the colorways.
In order:  Chili, Magenta, Sandy, and Emerald

This is Symphony Yarn, 750 yards of fingering weight merino wool.  It's beautiful to work on, has a lovely sheen, is so soft, and as you can see, takes dye really well.  

Where can you sign up?

Etsy, of course!

We're hoping to mail out around June 15.  I know it's early days, but I need an idea of how much yarn to order, and then I need time to dye it up.  The pattern will be emailed in one clue to you.

We're pretty excited about this.  We think you're going to really enjoy working this lovely pattern.

Design Floor Monday - Roses

A bit blurry, but here she is, so far.  I've decided to keep with the chevron look, but am thinking of a central diamond and then more chevrons.  I may also add another set of chevrons to the row.  Early days, and I don't have to make any decisions for a while.  I have plenty of fabric, so I'm good.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm a machine, baby!

I've got some sort of mojo back.  It might be the walking.  My sister started the 10,000 steps program, and I got motivated.  Before I retired, I'd go for good walks during lunch or break times, and really did 10,000 steps/day.  Then I retired and turned into a sloth.  And I have felt slothful for about 6 years now.  Enough already.  I'm walking again, and loving it.  Starting off slowly, I'm up to 4700 steps in a walk.  Every day I'm adding a bit, and should be at 10,000 pretty soon.  And it's paying off:  I have energy again.  Plus, I make sure that I don't sit for hours.  I get up and move all the time.

Of course it helps that we're having the most glorious spring weather around.  Wait until it rains; then I'll have to go back to the gym or use an umbrella.  But right now, it's so beautiful outside, and I can't wait to go marching.

Quilting is now a walking activity.  I stand up to iron and go downstairs to cut or trim.  All the time.  When I was assembling my Floating Squares quilt, I had the blocks laid out in the bedroom, and walked there every time I needed to sew each block together with the rest.  I figured out that a row took about 100 steps.  

I'm turning into a motion machine.  I really like it, too.

So, on the design floor in the living room (a level down.  We live in this dopey split-level house) is Rose Chevrons.  At the moment, I'm going with the chevron layout.

Then, yesterday, I went down to the Dyeing Dungeon, AKA the cellar (2 levels down from the kitchen), and did a bit of dyeing.  I found some long-lost yarn in one of my yarn tubs, and I want to use it up.  So here you are.  (I also did a dye-up for a mystery crochet project, but it's a mystery so no pics yet.)
This is Shelley yarn, a fingering weight (despite that lofty look) with a soft twist to it.  Very nice.  I think I have about 16 more skeins, and then that's it.

Gotta go and walk.  Yay, walking.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Floating Squares

I have a finished flimsy.  I think it qualifies as an official UFO!  Whoo hoo!

Taken outside this afternoon, the pics are pretty close to the real colors.

I have no idea on how I'm going to quilt it, but I'll figure it out at some point.

A decision or not.

So, I made a decision.  I'm not going to put solid strips between the chevrons.  I prefer it chevron-ish to block-ish.  (2 new words in the English language).

Next decision, to have the blocks zigzag in chevron fashion as above,

Better picture of that diamond moment.

 Yep, this is what I'm going to do.  I love the ziggy zaggy coming to a diamond.  I just can't get away from the diamond patterns.

I finished the floating boxes flimsy but have to take a good picture of it.  It's sunny out, so maybe in a little while.  Or else I'll wait for the Hubz to hold it up.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Strings, glorious strings!

I'm entranced with these things.  Here's what I'm playing with now.

Here are 3 rectangles, approx 5" x 10".  All put together.  OK, that's one idea.

Next idea.

Rectangles separated with background fabric, which will be bone.  I know this looks sort of gray-ish white, but the paper is actually the exact color of the fabric.  So just imagine the blocks bordered with bone Kona.

Third idea.

Blocks separated with either that soft green, the cheery pink, and/or the persimmon Kona at the top.  Each block bordered with a single color?  So then 2 solids would be next to each other?  Each block bordered at top and sides with a single color?  Then there were be one solid next to blocks?

Well, considering that I only have 3 of these made, I have plenty of time to decide what I want to do.  That persimmon (the dark reddish strip), is actually a deep pink, kind of like the background of a couple of the strips, but a wee bit lighter.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What I did, instead of what I should have been doing

I couldn't help it.  The little squares were calling me.  "Float me, float me on top of the white."  What can you do when little squares call you?  You answer.

Not the final arrangement, but I just wanted to lay them out.  Not sewn together, it's about 48" x 54".  A border or even two, and then it'll be a good lap blankie for me.  The Hubz can have his shirt strings, and I'll have my floating squares.

And now I really need to do my breakfast dishes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Well, not really.  "Spools" is more accurate, although I'm not doing this as a spool quilt, but as a Dots and Boxes quilt.

Each box is approx 4".  I'll probably make it wider with more boxes and then with a border.  Or not.  I have a long way to go before making a border decision.  It's slow work, but very pleasant.

On the quick side, I'm doing a floating square quilt, based on instructions by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt fame.  I saw this YouTube, and had to do it.  When I first began collecting fabric a couple of years ago, I found this lovely charm pack of blues, yellows and white from Moda.  Can't remember the name.   I also bought a bit of yardage from the same line, and found some nice fabrics that live with it in my stash.  The white is Kona cotton white, my favorite.  This is so quick and easy.  I love her videos; they're perfect for me.  I'm afraid that I'm not very good with teensy little pieces that all have to fit together.  I admire those quilts, but I'm just not that precise, and not likely to improve.  But this little quilt is pleasant and mindless and within my capabilities. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Heigh Ho, heigh ho, it's off to dye I go.

OK, it's off to dye I went.  Yesterday.  I had a yen to dye up some pretty colorways.

Top row, the first two and the second from the right are all Heather Yarn, a lovely yarn that dyes 2 values at the same time.  How?  A couple of the plies are in non-superwash wool, and the other ply is superwash.  Superwash takes up dye immediately, the regular wool take a lot longer to take the color, so you get a barber-pole effect.  However, it knits up as a marled yarn.  Very interesting and complex.  Fingering weight, no nylon, and perfect for scarves and such.  You can make socks, but you'll have to hand wash them in cold water.

420 yards of fingering weight yarn that's lofty and lovely to knit or crochet with.

Here they are:  Orangeade, Jenny, and Candy. 

This next batch are Rachel yarns.  100% SW (superwash) merino with a neat little twist that really shows off your stitches.  400 yards of delicious woolliness.

Clown, Grete, Lemon, Parrot, Tropical Fish., Vermillion, and Wood Grain



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Dance!

Shirt Strings flimsy is almost done.  Just waiting for the border fabric to arrive.  Here's Hiz Hubz, holding it.  He told me to forget the extra row I was going to put on, and I'm happy to oblige. 

Yay, me!  This is the biggest quilt I've tackled and I'm never going to make any quilt much larger.  I figure it'll be around 60" with the border.  Happy dance all around the house.  Whoo hoo.

I'm exhausted with all the excitement.

What am I reading?

 The Sound of broken glass.  I do love Deborah Crombie's books.

Mostly, I'm working madly away on my Shirt Strings quilt. 4 more blocks to make, and then sew the blocks together.  Whoo hoo!  I could get addicted to quick quilts.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Info about the Shirt Strings quilt

I got the idea way, way back when, years before I started sewing again, from a quilt in one of Kaffe Fassett's books.  He used men's shirting which he bought from a pricey haberdasher in London.  I never forgot that quilt, so when I began quilting, I started looking for men's shirts.  Forget expensive shirting fabric; I wanted to do this on the cheap, ahem, frugal.

It was only a few months ago that I began looking at Bonnie Hunter's site and the spot where she talks about repurposing shirts.  And then the light dawned on me when I discovered Mary Johnson's Heart Strings site.  To top it all off, Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company put out a video of this technique.   MSQC now sells 10" square foundation paper, which is a great size for me, and I don't have to make my paper foundations;  they've done it all for me.

That's the story, Morning Glory.  So now you know. 

Finished the 5th row tonight.  2 more rows and then I start sewing these guys together. 

No pics because it's dark.  You don't want to see dark pics.

Design Floor Monday - Shirt Strings

Shirt quilt so far.  I figure 7-8 rows of 6 blocks, plus a border, binding.  All made out of shirts that I found at thrift shops or garage sales.  This is for the Hubz, and he is so totally into it that he now scouts out shirts for me.  The rules for this particular quilt are:  all-cotton if possible, although there are some cotton/poly blends in here; colors are blues and white and/or a bit of green.  In my fair isle knitting years, I always had a sparkle color someplace to add a bit of zip to the pattern, and now in my quilting years, the same thing holds true.  So, the green adds the zip.  Well, at least I think so.

Here's what a block looks like before trimming. 

And here it is after trimming.

Cool, huh?  I could do this all day long.  I see many more string quilts in my future.  I love the process, plus it doesn't matter much if my seams are wonky.  Yay, wonky seams.

I've spent maybe $10 - 15 on these shirts so far, and I have so much material that I can easily make 3 more of these quilts.  Now I want to use "real" fabric for the next one, and play around with sewing blocks together and then cutting to make different blocks.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Shirts Strings Sing

String quilts are such fun, especially when they are made out of men's shirts and bought at bag sales at thrift shops.  XXL shirts yield a ton of fabric, and even smaller sizes have lots to cut.  I look for 100% cotton, although I'm happy to take a cotton/poly combination provided that cotton is the main fiber.  So far I have 4 10" squares done, and lots and lots of fabric to go. 

The Hubz needs a guy quilt, and what could be more guy than men's shirtings?  And do I care if he gets ketchup on the quilt?  Nah.  This is just leftovers.  

The trick is to spend very little money on the shirts, no more than $2/shirt, and even better, if the thrift shop is having a sale of stuff a bag for $5, boy can you ever squash in those shirts! It also helps to have a theme.  So, I look for blue and white and occasionally a bit of green.  Easy peasy to find, since most men's shirts seem to be blue and white.  Stripes, plaids, checks, it doesn't matter.

And on a much slower note, here are the Dots and Boxes joined together.  These are English paper pieced, all hand done, and they take forever.  Nice to do in front of the TV, or chatting with the Hubz.  Im not particularly interested in speed, so EPP suits me just fine.  And now that I'm fixated on string quilts, well there is where I can zoom along.

Such fun!  

And yesterday I found my long-lost Dresden template, and you know what's in my head now.  Little Dresden circles.  I have tons of charm packs, too.  No pics because this is all in my head.

As for my poor knitting, alas, I seem to knit only at night and am working on a very large shawl.  One of these days I'll show you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Frugaling along with menu planning - long, long post.

I'm the world's worst housekeeper, and I know it.  But I'm really really really great at being frugal.  It's something I inherited from my mother, who had mingy down-pat.

I love to read frugal blogs.  My faves are The Frugal Queen and Blissful and Domestic.  These ladies have it all figured out.  If you are in serious financial difficulty, they will put you right. 

Frugaling is a good habit to acquire.  You never know when life will throw you a curve and you'll need to tighten your belt.  Or maybe you want to pay off your mortgage, or you want to retire before you're dead, or you want to travel, or help the kids out.  Whatever.  Being cheap is always helpful, and often necessary.

Today,  Blissful and Domestic is talking about food budgets, and I thought:  "Hey I know about food budgets.  I know a lot about them.  Maybe I'll impart some wisdom to the world."   So here goes.

Way back, when I worked full-time (I'm retired now 6 years!!!), and had kids and husband to feed, I'd come home from work, stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open, and wonder what to make for supper.  At the same time, the kids were hungry, wanted to know what we were having and when we'd be eating.  You know this routine.

So I found a book at the library (title and author totally forgotten, it's been way over 30 years) where the authors wrote about organization.  Yep, that curse word - organization.  No, I'm so not organized, but there was a chapter on menu planning, and I glommed onto that.

Here's what I did.  I made up index cards, color-coded for each type of food.  So, chicken recipes would be on pink cards, fish on blue cards, vegetarian on white cards.  You get the picture.

On the front of each card, I wrote the name of the recipe, the cookbook and page where I could find it.  On the back of the card, I wrote down the ingredients, how much, etc.

The night before shopping, I'd go through my cards and decide what the week's menu was going to be.  When I made my market list, I'd write down the ingredients called for.  Then, when I went to the market, I was set.  No more 3 eggplants when I only needed one.  No more standing in front of that refrig and wondering what to make.  I was Organized!  (the only time in my life ever that I was organized, but I'll take what I can get.)

And it saved my neck.  I spent so much less at the market with no impulse purchases, I knew what to cook, and even had the flexibility of changing hamburgers from Tues to Thurs.  I had all the ingredients, so I could could at any time.

My index card project didn't happen overnight.  It took me a couple of weeks, but every time I tried a new recipe and liked it, I'd make a card.  We had well-balanced meals with an assortment of meat, poultry and vegetarian recipes.  It really was a life saver.

As for the kids, I gave them the standard Mommie answer:  What are we having for dinner?  Food.  When are we eating?  When it's done.

The kids liked the menu plan.  I always posted it on the refrig so they knew what we were eating that week.  Yep, I tossed in pizza once a week.  I did enough cooking, and anyhow, worked at least one night a week.  We did have boring spaghetti dinners, too.  On the other hand, I made a mean chicken stir fry with sate noodles, and that was amazing, and really not very much work at all.  We ate well, and I could get dinner on the table in record time, and, the best part, other than the frugal part, WE DIDN'T RELY ON FAST FOOD! 

Did you actually read this entire post?  Amazing. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Yet another project bag.  I'm addicted to them.  I can't stop making them.  I don't need any more.  I have more than you can imagine, but I like making them.  

So here's the latest small project bag:  Zinnia!

Isn't she adorable?  In this photograph, she's filled with 2 skeins of sock yarn, and believe me, I can still fit in another skein.  She's just perfect for socks, scarves, even lace shawls.  And who says you have to use her for knitting or crochet?  You can use her for just about anything!  
When I travel, I'll put in all the goodies for English Paper piecing.  A little container with scissors, thread, etc, all the fabric pieces in their own ziplock plastic bags.
One of the grands uses her project bag to hold her ballet gear.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Spools on my design floor

Paper Pieces calls them Spools, but I don't see spools; I see dots and surrounds. 

Here's the fabric.  This is what makes these little Dots and Surrounds so neat.

Up-close pics to see the fabric a bit better.

Can you see the swirly lines?  Maybe embiggen the photographs?  I saw this fabric at The City Quilter back in February, and loved the ombre, but hated the little swirly lines.  So, I didn't buy.  Then, a couple of weeks ago when we were in MA, we went to The Black Cat Quilt Shop, and lo and behold, there was the fabric and I fell in love.  And the best part was that swirly effect.  Go figure.  Different day, different moment.  Who knows?  All I can say now is that I'm so in love with this fabric.  Not inexpensive, but look at all the colors I can get out of those 1/2 yards.  I'm combining it with Kona white, just because I really like white these days to set off color.

These are just little 4" squares.  It'll take a whole bunch to make a quilt.  How big with the quilt be?  I have no idea; I'll work until I get tired of it all.  If I move quickly (hah!), I might finish it before the shop runs out of fabric.  Or not.  I can see a white border and an ombre border.  Or not.  I like to make it up as I go along. 


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