Sunday, December 28, 2008

Done and Dusted...

And here it is, in all its glory. Finished size is just over 50" by just over 60".
And here are the wishes...first up, Spirit, Hope and Peace: Joy and Kindness:

Grit and Patience:

Grace, Love and Humor (though my Aussie friends tell me I've misspelled it!):

Then there's the back:

This was just such a fun quilt to make. I almost hated to see it end. BTW, DON'T embiggen might be shocked at how really bad I am at free-motion quilting...

Gasp! Two Posts In One Day!

It was such a gorgeous day here that I thought I'd post a few pics I took at cocktail hour, as DH and I settled in with a glass of wine on the verandah, to enjoy the kitties and the view. I know lots of you are dealing with severe weather and short days, and I wanted to remind you that summer WILL come's proof:
Of course, when summer comes again for YOU, WE'LL be shivering and hiding under the covers Down Under...

Alfonse, Cloudy and Patch decided to hang about and enjoy the late afternoon/early evening with us:

And isn't Patch a handsome fellow?

Of course, Alfonse believes that he is ruler of the roost:

While the donkeys hung out under the trees, looking for a cooler spot:

I meant to get pics of the other kitties, but Frank and Chloe decided it was cooler to lounge on their straw bales in the outdoor room of their kitty condos, while Cassie and Spike were in a deep sleep inside...being Ladies of a Certain Age, they need their beauty sleep!

Nearing the Finish Line...

Yes, there has been quilting going on, even though it is the holiday season. Hot outside yesterday and today (sorry, folks in the Northern Hemisphere!) so it was a good time to sit inside under the ceiling fan and work on the Ten Wishes quilt. Got the quilting finished yesterday, and today I made the binding and got it machine-stitched on. Isn't this fabric a perfect match for the quilt? I don't think it misses out on any of the colors in the quilt!
One more pic of the quilted top, just before I put on the binding:

And best of all, the binding fabric was from stash, too, which means that aside from the batting, I bought exactly zero fabrics for this quilt. Embarassing, isn't it?!

And in other news, I finally finished these little ankle socks I've been working on for a few weeks. The Crystal Palace Panda Silk was a dream to knit...a mix of wool, silk and nylon. It's Grumperina's Jaywalker pattern, only with a short leg part so I can wear them during our hot weather with sandals. The socks are actually a matched pair, although the left one looks smaller in this cameras do funny things when you're shooting down on objects, don't they?

Christmas was just lovely here...after a rocky start. Very grey and cool and threatening-looking when we woke up, but it cleared around 11AM and was absolutely gorgeous. We were able to eat lunch outside...ten of us, and a fabulous time was had by all. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Top is Finished, With Wishes!

And here it is, in all its glory: Doing the wishes using Tonya's techniques was SO much fun! I learned a lot...don't use fabrics that are too busy or you won't be able to read the words. Ask me how I know! I had to remake Spirit because you absolutely couldn't tell what it said, and even so, the new fabric I chose still isn't the strongest.
And I was able to use up a bit of fabric by just using 11" squares of many of the fabrics used in the blocks for the backing:

And see that orphan block in the top left of the pic? That will actually be the bottom right of the back of the quilt, and I'll use that block as the label, just adding the text I want.
So now, it's off to the LQS to pick up some batting, and the final phase begins. I've chosen a wonderful diagonal stripe fabric for the has all the colors from the quilt top. And I'm thinking either an all-over fairly nonfussy meander for the quilting, or possibly a wavy grid...what do you think? It's such a busy top I don't want to add much more...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oooooo, Sashing! And Cornerstones!

I've chosen the pale pink dots for the sashing, and I'm liking it a lot. Also a mottled raspberry pink for the cornerstones...I'm hoping the regularity of the sashing and cornerstones will tone down the multiple colors a bit. Here's how it's looking, laying on the floor in the quilting studio. Now for the fun of sewing all those bits on, and then trying to choose setting triangles. Can you tell I'm avoiding the stress of piecing the wishes? Actually, I've printed off Tonya's tutorials and am reading them again. More on that front soon. In fact, I'm not going to post any more pics of this quilt until I'm ready to start on the wishes. Feeling the need for something simple, I decided to start a pair of socks that I can wear with sandals. (Rumor has it that warm weather will arrive here soon...I'll believe it when I see it!) These are Grumperina's Jaywalker pattern, which I love a lot. I've already made two regular pairs of Jaywalkers, and decided to use the same pattern for these little angle-high numbers. Also decided on an Eye of Partridge heel, one of my favorites. Yarn is Crystal Palace Panda Silk, which is a blend of bamboo, merino and silk...really silky and soft. Needles are 2.25 mm, my usual.
And lest you think I'm a fickle person with a bad case of start-itis, I finished the Gentleman's Socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, and they turned out great. DH loves them...soft, stretchy and comfy.
Thanksgiving approaches, and I'm feeling deprived. Aussies don't celebrate Thanksgiving, of course, and DH doesn't like turkey. What's a poor little California Girl to do? Maybe it's time to take myself off to the pub for a nice turkey sandwich!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Little Rethink, and Some Good Progress

So, as you can see, I made a little change...decided to make more stars and leave out the plain blocks between. I've not got 32 blocks, enough for the design I want to do. This doesn't show the sashing and cornerstones, because I haven't decided on what fabrics to use yet, but it feels good to have the pieced blocks finished. And I made a tiny start on Tonya's words...actually, I decided to wing it first, so I could learn about the issues on my own. This little "LOVE" is my first attempt, and it's pretty poor, but now I have enough confidence to print out Tonya's instructions and make a real start.
Here are the ten wishes I'm thinking of putting in the borders of this quilt, which would then be called Ten Wishes for Tessabell: love, joy, peace, hope, kindness, humor, grace, spirit, patience, grit. I'm nearly in a faint, just thinking about actually making all these words, though -- anyone got better suggestions (for SHORTER wishes!)?
This picture shows the blocks a little closer, but leaves out the blue ones, which will probably be cornerstones for the border. As you can see, I'm trying to group the pink and blue blocks in the center, with little satellites of orange, yellow, green and turquoise at the four corners. Sure looks busy at the moment, though. I'm hoping the sashing and cornerstones will tone things down a little bit.
So, what's your take on where I am with it now? Any suggestions? Toss it all in the bin and start over? Yikes!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jest a'Quiltin' and a'Knittin'...

Only four more blocks to be made, and then the fun begins:
So there's good progress on the Pale Stars quilt for Tess. Wanna see some up close? These are such fun 6" blocks. I'm planning to set them on-point, with maybe pale pink or pink on white sashing, and cornerstones of various pinks or maybe multicolored. What do you think?

And I'm toying with the idea of making pieced words for the border, a la Tonya, with the words being "wishes" for Tess's life. Here's a scribbled look at what I'm thinking. Now the challenge will be to come up with words that will be meaningful, but that aren't too long. As this will be my first attempt at pieced words, I don't want to get TOO ambitious.

When I need to take a break from all the bright colors in the quilt, I revert to a knitting project: Gentleman's Fancy Socks, from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. These are on 2.25mm needles, using a lovely "creamed spinach" wool from Pagewood Farms, in a mixture of wool, bamboo and nylon. And I'm getting smart in my old age...cast on both socks (on two different sets of dpns) so I can work on both socks alternately, thus avoiding, (I hope!) the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome.

And I swear I don't know how it happened, but Eunny Jang's Print o' the Waves stole sprang onto my needles the other night, too. This requires a lot of concentration -- for me, anyway -- so I just work on it when I'm alone and it's really quiet. The needles are 3.5mm and the yarn is KnitPicks Shadow, a lovely merino wool. You can see my first lifeline halfway down...I used the wonderful facility of KP interchangeable circulars to thread a piece of yarn through the little hole and put the lifeline in as I knit the last row of a repeat. However, I'd forgotten that would also put the stitch markers onto the lifeline...duh. Obviously I need to think this through a little bit. Still, it's SO worth it to have the lifeline, I don't mind adding a second set of stitch's just a bit awkward for the first row.

And how about this cool new addition. We are hosting our neighborhood Christmas Party on Dec. 6 and really needed an outdoor table and chairs. These look pretty nifty tucked into a sheltered corner of the verandah, and as it's a covered area, it won't be too sunny and hot, I hope...Christmas in the Antipodes is often hot, dontcha know?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

At Last, Some Quilty Content...

But first, before we get to the quilting news of the day, here's the Pink Misti Alpaca Shawl finished. Not blocked yet, but I need to work out something to use as blocking wires first. It's pretty big, even unblocked: 19" x 65", and it's supposed to be about 22 x 78 when blocked. We'll see about that. I'm worried about getting all those points going in the right direction, but I'm thrilled it's finished and beautiful. And now...without further ado...quilt news! I hauled out all the tubs and started ratting through, looking for pretty, "girly" colors. It's shocking to me how many different fabrics I trouble at all in coming up with several pinks in pale, medium and dark...or blue, or green, or orange, or turquoise...seem to be a bit low on yellows.
And cutting things up is always fun. DH always wonders why we buy big pieces of fabric, cut them up and then sew them back together...doesn't make sense to him. Men!

And the block I've chosen is Pale Star, with the blocks finishing at 6". I think I'll do a diagonal setting with sashing, but haven't finalized colors/widths yet. There will be an outer border that may or may not be diagonal stripes or piano keys.

So, I'm back in the game, I think. I felt so awkward as I started out, and had trouble getting precision for my HSTs, but I think I'm getting my quilting mojo back now.
I'd LOVE to use up a bit of my stash this year. Can't really justify buying new fabric when there's so much that's been hanging around for a few years. Of course, I'm sure none of you has ever encountered this situation...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bells' Long, Lacy Summer

Bells has been challenging us to make some lace this summer, and I've taken her message to heart. Here's what I've been working on, from the gorgeous book shown. It's the Large Rectangle With Center Diamond Pattern, from Victorian Lace Today, knitted in Misti Alpaca on 4.5mm needles. I've finished the center section and have been struggling mightily with the knitted on I turned the second corner, having finished one long side, the first corner, one short side and the second corner. I count this as VICTORY, because my learning curve was pretty steep. And guess who has been helping me guessed it, Alfonse le Soot, now recovered fully from his misadventure earlier this year.

During the struggles with the pink alpaca rectangle, I decided I needed to work on something with fatter yarn, so I inserted a couple of weeks to do this Shetland Shawl from Wrap Style, using Elisabeth Lavold's Silky Wool and 4.0mm needles. This was a piece of cake to knit, and a lot of fun, too...did wonders for my confidence about lace.

Then, lest I be too flushed with success, I was seduced by a KAL offered by Schoolhouse Press to do Amy Detjen's Pansy Triangle Shawl, featuring a really neat centered eyelet that's fun to have learned. I just happened to have some Unspun Icelandic in a gorgeous Sumac color, so I launched that one, too. After some rough spots while I struggled with wrap and turn difficulties, I finally clicked in with this one and sailed on through. I'm really loving's shaped nicely, so it doesn't slip off your shoulders. Of course, no sooner did I finish than the hottest weather we've seen this year arrived...30 degrees C. (87 F.) today. Still, this is the Southern Highlands, and cold weather can (and does!) arrive at any time.
Here's a detail shot, showing the neat pansies with their centered eyelet:
And here's the full shawl, in all its glory:
Still no quilting to be shown, but I have done some designing with EQ6 and think I'm on the path to the first of the baby quilts I have queued up. Pics when I have something more definitive to show.
I've also got some gorgeous laceweight yarn in a gorgeous pale grey variegated that's crying out to me...but I think it's time for a break from lace. Actually, I have two pairs of socks on the needles, too, and one of those has a lacy top. Can't stop myself! And I need to get back and finish up the gansey sweater, too...still have to chart the patterns for the sleeves, and then I'm good to go. The body of the sweater is finished, and it's looking wonderful.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Woo-Hoo...New Toys!

Well, looky, looky! Guess who has taken the plunge into lace knitting? I've started my first shawl, and it's a bit of a cliffhanger. Can you see the two (count 'em...TWO!) lifelines I've put in there? Who's a bit of a wuss when it comes to lace? I'm hanging in there, but at this point it's not looking like knitting lace is going to be my first love. Fun, but rather fiddly. There isn't much positive tension on the needles when you're working with such fine yarn and such relatively fat needles, which makes the stitches rather floppy and unstable. Still, I'm hanging in there, and it's looking good so far. Oh, and did you notice the very cool pattern holder with the magnetic line-finders I got from Knit Picks? This is a real boon for lace knitting, or any chart knitting. Don't know how I ever lived without it! The shawl is unblocked for the moment, of course, so don't be put off by the fact that it looks rather like an amoeba... In an abundance of enthusiasm, I bought this gorgeous laceweight yarn from KnitPicks, too, and started out on Eunny Jang's Print O' the Waves Shawl, but ripped it out after several rows. Don't think I'm up yet to the challenge of repeats that cross over my stitch markers. I'll try this one again after I've completed the "easy" lace shawl above!
And when I get too overwhelmed with the teeny yarn and fiddly stitches, I've been working on some baby things for a new baby that will have arrived by the time we return to Australia. These are from the Mason-Dixon knitting book: two bibs and a kimono, knit from Peaches and Cream. Also a learning experience: found out I really don't care for knitting with cotton, but I do think the patterns are very cute, don't you?
And here's another score from this trip. Haven't started knitting anything from it yet, but I'm feeling the urge to knit with sport weight yarn and smaller needles for awhile, and there are some really cute things in this book.
And finally, I HAVE to report on my 50th high school reunion a couple of weeks ago. It was such a fun time. As you see, we gathered in the new gymnasium for a group shot. I think there were 49 students in my graduating class, and as you can see from the pic, quite a few of us turned out for the reunion. We had dinner together the night before at our favorite local Mexican restaurant, then had a tour of the high school (which is looking really great these buildings, enthusiastic principal, great students), and a buffet dinner that evening. On the next day, Sunday, we gathered at the gorgeous home of one of our classmates for lunch and more catching up and sharing our experiences. What an incredible gift to see these people after so many years! Can you spot me in the second row, white t-shirt?

Now only a week left here before the long flight back to Oz, where I am hoping Spring is springing!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ooops...Forgot A Couple

Senior moment...forgot to post pics of my two February Lady Sweaters, knitted as part of the KAL on Ravelry. First one was knit with Queensland Rustic in a taupe blend, on 4.5mm needles. Don't you love the coconut shell buttons that are assymetrical in shape? This is my current go-to sweater for running around in...three quarter sleeves, slightly flared shape, gull wing lace for sleeves and, fun, fun! So then, I thought "What if I made the same sweater, with long sleeves, using just a ribbed sleeve and body below the garter stitch yoke...and wonder if I could make a ruffled edge with a dark contrast." Remembering I had a ton of Snickerdoodle Wool of the Andes from my last Knitpicks buy, I decided to launch. Turned out cute, I think, and enough different from the other one so I won't get bored with it. Used 4.5s on this one, too. I do need to restitch the buttons...must have been tipsy when I sewed them on! They don't quite line up with their buttonholes. And forgive the wrinkles. Didn't fold this sweater up properly when I put it away last time.

These February Lady Sweaters are really fun to make...I think there's a fuschia one in my future!

Alive and Well, and a Knittin' Fool...

As you can see from this shot, Alfonse is looking like himself again...he's even managed to get his nemesis, Cloudy, to snuggle up in the Quilting Studio for a photo op! And yes, that is one of my quilts they've managed to co-opt for their pose. So, I thought for those of you who are still dropping in from time to time, you might enjoy seeing my recent progress...a friend asked for a knitted hat in "pink tones"...and since I'm nothing if not obsessive (but haven't got a lot of pink yarn in my stash), I made four versions in different combinations of the pinks I have. You can also see my first attempt at a Gansey Sweater (the purple pile on the left), and a deep red cabled scarf that is languishing for the moment.
And lest you think I have forsaken quilting entirely, here's evidence that the pastel quilt remake is nearing the final stages. Only a few lines of quilting left before I get a binding on and put it on the guest bed. However, since we're off to California tomorrow, I won't get this finished till we're back at the end of September.
And here's how the window seat is looking...almost buried under piles of my junk. Still no nice neat cushion for the window seat. That will require a trip to Sydney to locate a piece of foam large enough (window seat is 91" wide). Or, I may get lazy (or rich!) and decide to have a cushion professionally made. Then it might have a chance of actually getting completed.
So, off to La La Land tomorrow to attend my 50th high school reunion...just unbelievable! Should be a really fun time catching up with people I haven't seen in nearly that many years. Then up to the condo in the Bay Area for a couple of weeks of retail therapy and catching up with family and friends.

Will try to post while I'm away...and will be reading everyone else's posts, too!