Friday, April 01, 2022

Knit, Quilt, Stitch, Repeat...

 While I await Mother Nature's realization that it's Spring in this part of the world, this is pretty much the rhythm of my days:

  • Up in the morning, journalling (2-3 pages almost every day), with coffee -- hot and black.
  • On to the computer for the weather, the news (less of this nowadays) and something to listen to while I knit on one of an assortment of projects.  Right now these include:
    • A "Dissent Cowl" in bright blue and yellow Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) light-weight (almost fingering) -- in recognition of the courage of the Ukrainian people, who have dissented against Russia's unprovoked invastion.  In my last post I'd barely cast on, but now I've finished 2 of the three sections of this top-down cowl, and am making my way through the "bib" section.  It's mosaic knitting, which I love, and there is a rhythm to it, but my-oh-my!  It requires concentration!  
    • My "Sock-Knitter's Pullover" -- using left-over balls of sock yarns, mainly in blues and purples, with some pinks.  I've split for the sleeves now, and am on the mindless knit of the body, which is a straight 13" or 14" -- before a 2" ribbing at the bottom.  So far, this project has consumed 3 1/2 left-over balls of sock yarn, each weighing about 40 grams.  I have a basketful to go...and probably more, once I get to the sleeves! and...
    • As of this morning, I'm trying yet again to awaken my sock-knitting mojo.  I cast on for the April Challenge in Ravelry's Socks from Stash group.  This month's theme is "Birds, bees, flowers, trees..." -- in other words, anything to do with nature.  I've chosen the "Cornflower Socks" pattern by Karen Scott and a ball of ONline Linie 3 Supersocke 100 in an intense purple colour -- no surprises there, eh?!  😉  

Breakfast over, I get dressed (if I'm not already) and move into the sewing studio. where the focus continues to be on comfort quilts for Ukrainian refugees.  The Blankets of Love program has taken a pause from its usual focus, and is now joining the effort in this.  I've a local rep, with whom I've been in touch; now I have a deadline to meet!  I'm going to be in town April 13 for a couple of appointments; she's agreed to meet up with me and take whatever I can give her in the way of finished quilts.  

I'm going to include the two small ones I showed in my last post, simply because a child might need one that size, and I've finished the first of my blue-and-yellow ones -- the Double Irish Chain.  No longer draped over the chair -- it's been sandwiched, quilted, bound and washed!  It measures 41" x 60" and will be a fine lap- or comfort-sized piece.  You can see that my Sewing Studio Supervisor has inspected the binding and approves... 😉

Yesterday I finished assembling the "Disappearing 4-Patch" that I mentioned last time tooBrita, the "Questioning Quilter", offered an infinitesimal number of options for arranging the blocks.

You start by making wide strip sets -- a 5 1/2" strip of each of two colours, cut on WOF (Width Of Fabric) and sewn together.  You cross-cut these at 5 1/2" and assemble simple four-patch blocks.  Here's my stack of 36, each squaring up at 10 1/2": 'slice and dice' at equal distances around the seams:

And you re-arrange the pieces (9 per block) in a manner "pleasing to you".  I took Brita's advice and made 18 yellow "flowers" and 18 blue "flowers" -- each of these blocks ends up 9 1/2" square.  You take 4 of these units and arrange them, again, in a way that catches your eye.  I liked this arrangement -- shown on my design wall:

Then, when you've made units of four blocks each, you arrange these into the top -- with 3 rows of 3 large blocks each.  This is when  you discover even more secondary patterns...and try to keep your eyes from crossing!  😆  Below: four large blocks -- two by two -- on my design wall.  See what I mean?!

In the end the piece got too large for my design wall and ended up on the "design bed" in my guest room.  It's fully assembled now; my next task is to piece the backing out of the remaining fabric and go from there.  I decided the appearance of a border (see the left side and bottom, above) was sufficient; I won't add another border.  Before quilting, it measures 55" x 55".

I'm also ready to do something a bit more straight-forward, so I've been collecting the instructions that Bonnie Hunter's been posting for her "Hearts of Hope" string quilt; I think I'll have enough blue, yellow and neutral scraps to make a go of that one too.

Speaking of Bonnie, while I had my extra sewing surface out -- I use it when I need something to handle the weight of a piece for quilting and/or sewing binding -- I decided to buckle down and finish the binding of the "On Ringo Lake" mystery quilt I finished a couple of years ago.  It was quilted by my trusty long-armer, Sylvia of Woodwind Long-arm Quilting, sometime in 2020 when lock-down had eased a bit...

It's a big one -- here it is on my back stoop; you're seeing about 1/2 of the full length:

Here's a detail of the piecing and quilting:

I've given away most of the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts I've made -- first to the victims of fire in Fort McMurray a number of years ago; then to family and friends -- but I always wanted to keep this one.  It's "ginormous" -- and rather big for my little bed -- but I love it!  (For the curious, the rug is an acrylic latch-hooked sampler made by my step-father decades ago -- one of only two I have left.  The other is for a little child's room, and is in a blanket box for safe-keeping.)

By mid-afternoon, I'm usually ready for some fresh air, and take time out for a walk -- weather permitting.  Sometimes the brisk winds make this a challenge, but I'm persistent!

Home again, I turn to my stitching.  Since my last post, I finished the little piece that called for peace in Ukraine.  I had a little bit of that blue-and-yellow print (see the cornerstones in the Double Irish Chain) so I made a quilted border for it, and a little hanging sleeve.  There are no plans for it just at the moment...I may just hang it somewhere in my house to remind me to keep praying for peace:

It's done on a piece of "mystery fabric" with a fine count, and except for the two outer blue borders, I used 1 strand over 2 stitches.

In other stitching -- well!  I'm still well and truly down that rabbit hole!  I've been "binge-watching" Carol (Saltbox Stitcher), and have nearly caught up past episodes there.  I recently discovered "Two Tall Stitchers" (Jenquilter and her mother, Carol -- not the Saltbox Stitcher), whose focus is both stitching and quilting, and their stitching is a bit more contemporary.  And of course, there's my very favourite pair: Brenda and the Serial Starter.  I enjoy the banter between the pairs -- Jen and her mother, and Brenda and Laura (the Serial Starter).  Carol (Saltbox) is solo, but she's about a year older than I am, and somehow, despite clear differences in our origins and geographic locations, we seem to see eye-to-eye on many subjects.  

All of them have had me researching projects...and my wish list at Traditional Stitches is growing.  I think I'll have to ask my family for gift cards or specific items from there for my birthday and Xmas for the next while! 

That said, I've already ordered a few things. For the first time ever, I pre-ordered a kit from the Nashville Needlework Market -- "Fred's Ewe-nifying Question" from Silver Creek Samplers arrived last week.  It's going to be a fun stitch for the summer months.

I've also received the pattern, "House of Cooking", and some of the accompanying floss (I had the fabric) -- and I've started it, as I'm giving it to a 'foodie' friend for her June birthday.  From my own stash, having just watched a "floss tube" from Kathy Barrick and her daughter, I dug out a long-ago Barrick design -- "Stitcher's Prayer" -- and made a small start.  I'd tucked it away eons ago -- the pattern was published in 2001!! -- with the floss; blessedly, I had a piece of linen just the right size to go with!

I've been working fairly steadily on gifts for Brenda and Laura -- starting with a needlebook for Laura.  It's a standing joke that Brenda is always giving Laura "Marching Orders".  Lo and behold I found a pair of kits in my stash -- designed by Just Nan, from her 'Red Hat Stitcher' series -- with that as the title!  I'm now nearly finished the cover of the little needlebook.  What you see below will be folded, and there's a wee embroidered flap to be stitched before I can do that, and then assemble the piece.  The "Order" in question is "Where a Red Hat and Carry a Silver Needle" -- and there'll be a little red hat charm attached in the space you see on the front of the book, under the first part of that phrase:

Brenda will get a different version of the same piece.  She refers to herself as 'the Sampler Stitcher' so I am inclined to make hers into a small pillow, which will be easier to ship than something in a frame.

And then there's the Mini Bouquet series by dear Jeannette Douglas!  I mentioned the March motif a few weeks ago, just before it was published -- and of course I've finished it:

March Tulips -- in situ

March Tulips - close up

The April pattern is out today, it being April 1, so I've saved and printed it to make a start later this afternoon.

And there's got to be at least one more start this month -- for spring and for Easter.  Again, culling my stash, I found "Crowning Glory", a pattern I purchased when on a stitching retreat held by Thea Dueck in Victoria almost 14 years ago.  It came with beads and one of the special threads; I've managed to find a piece of fabric as well as the metallic (Kreinik) thread and DMC floss and perle cottons to make it up.  It includes some hemstitch and hardanger, and probably won't be anywhere near being finished in time for Easter, but as Mary Poppins reportedly opined once in a long-ago film, "Once begun is half-done!"

Once again, my artist friends, I am relying on OPI (Other People's Instructions) to keep me busy and productive.  I did some dabbling recently with tea-bag papers and canvases (one for painting, one for needle-point or pin-stitching)...there will be photos eventually, but for now, these pieces are percolating.

In these continually chaotic times, I find the pull to create beauty, to find rhythm in pattern and colour, to find solace in spring sunshine (wind or no wind) -- and to make some small contribution to the comfort of others -- is what keeps me sane.  I'm a 'thinker', often (usually?) an 'over-thinker' -- and have been all my life.  My mother warned me about it when I was in my early teens.  It's a way of being that I cannot change about myself, but I can mitigate its impact on my health by turning to the work of my hands, and so I go on this way, as I'm called to go.

That said, in the Art Front -- there is News!  The Art in the Park residency sponsored by Parks Canada in Glacier National Park near Revelstoke, British Columbia -- for which I was selected in 2020, and which has been cancelled 2 years running -- IS ON THIS YEAR!  I'll be there for 5 days in July...and am over the moon that I am still well and fit enough to participate.  So yes, Gentle Readers, there will be more Original Art-making in the coming months, and I will post about it here.

Right now, the sunshine and blue sky is calling me, and it's time to close this epistle and get some fresh air.  I leave you with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- and her exploration of the work of artist Michael James.

Until next time, may you be well, may you be creative, may you bring light to your little corner of the world.  Have a great week! 😊


Kate said...

Enjoy your residency in BC. It sounds great.

You have lots of great finishes for this month.

Barwitzki said...

First of all... may clever minds end the war, that is the most important thing...
I also start my morning with a large cup of black coffee and my cell phone or PC and jet through the world...
your quilts are beautiful, they are a dream... many sweet dreams :-))
I wish you a wonderful sunday. It's already spring here with us - even if it was very cold this morning - and soon spring will come to you.
Hug of Viola