Monday, May 31, 2010

Teeny Tiny Hats

A couple of the local yarn stores sponsor a charity project where knitters (and crocheters too!) are asked to use up their scrap yarn to make little hats for premie babies.  Left over sock yarn  is ideal for this project and I spent movie watching time over the past couple of days getting three more done.

Cute or what?

I used a super wash wool sock yarn that washes up into a very, very soft fuzzy hand.

I decided to try out three different ways of finishing the tops. 

The middle one is my I-cord, created off the final stitches at the top, and would be great for plucking the hat off of a little one's head. 

The one on the left has a pom-pom that seems about to eat the hat.  If I do this again I will make a smaller pom pom.  I used a pom pom maker offered by Clover and it was a breeze to use.  I got mine from JoAnn's and used a 40% off coupon so it was a great bargain.

The one of the right has a traditional way to close up the top of the hat...just string a piece of yarn through the last stitches, pull tight and secure.  It works but I don't think it is as cute as the I-cord solution.

I hope the mothers and their babies like them.  I am not sure which store will get my latest efforts.  I have about a dozen waiting to be given away the next time I am at a participating yarn store.  On the other hand, I may just drop them off to a group that provides a lot stuff to a specific local charity hospital that doesn't get much community support.

The thing they are sitting on in the backyard?  That was my other weekend project and you will just have to wait to see the great unveiling.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summer Bog Coat

If you are new to these musings you may not realize it but I am addicted to the Bog Coat.  For a 4,000 year old design, I am continually finding new fabrics for this ultra-simple pattern.  My adventures began two years ago and that revelation and the pattern can be found here

Most recently I found a lovely Madras type print that is shot thorugh with random metallic threads.  I  found it on the sale shelf at Time Treasured Quilts locally a couple of months ago and recently figured out what to do with it.....that ever versatile bog coat pattern came immeadiately to mind.

My goal was to make a light weight cover-up for when I am wearing plain sleeveless t-shirts and I need something that I can wear in the air conditioning.  I also feel that I need something to cover up some of the itchiness I have been experiencing lately and this rendition of the bog coat really fits the bill.

A little wrinkled, but I think you get the idea of what a nice fabric I used. 

The construction was ultra simple... I serged it all together and serged the edges as well and cleaned it all up with top stitching.  This construction was great because it added very little bulk to this light weight fabric however I did have a bit of a problem with keeping the arm pits smooth.. but if you can see that problem you are probably too close!

The other day I wore it to an ASG neghborhood group meeting and got way more compliments than the difficulty of this pattern deserves.  All the credit really goes to the fabric.  One thing I did do is to make it about mid thigh length...sort of a short duster.... so I can practice my Katherine Hepburn pose.

I really encourage you to try making a bog coat for when you have a special piece of fabric.  This pattern really lets the fabric shine and the sewing skills you need are minimal to have a great result.

BTW Time Treasured Quilts is a fabulous shop with a terrific range of fabric.  From wacky cartoon prints to sophisticated oriental styles they really have fabrics I enjoy using.  Their web site does not do them justice so, if you are in town, please take the opportunity to visit them and be prepared to be bown away.  

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quilts for Kids

Downy, the fabric softener people,have started a wonderful program called Touch of Comfort.  This program was created to sponsor the making of 10,000 quilts for the Quilts for Kids charity.  Downy will donate $0.10 for every specially marked bottle sold and Quilts for Kids uses the funds to defray the cost of their work.

One of the neatest things is that you can request one or more quilt kits from Quilts for Kids' national heaquarters and all you would need to provide is the batting.

Locally, a long arm quilter had her weekly quilt group make up a bunch of the tops which she then quilted, bound and sent back to the national headquarters.  With all the fabric well corrdinated with the patterns provided all the hard work was done so the quilters just needed to sew.

Many cities have Quilts for Kids groups and there is even one run through a local quilt shop in Houston - Quiltworks.

I love this whole concept. 

I have worked with groups that are sponsored by my local quilt guild to make quilts for kids and I can't think of a simpler way to put a smile on some  sick child's face. 

Heck, when I had pneumonia a couple of years ago one of the first things I asked to be brought to the hospital was one of my quilts and it certainly made me feel better.

Check out the Quilts for Kids organization and see if you can help out with this great cause.

While you are doing that I will be finishing up about ten quilts from the Kingwood Quilt Guild's Kwilts for Kids program so we can continue to spread a little love. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Runing Away From Home Tote

One of the compensations for having my dining room full of other peoples quilting discards for the Quilt Show next year, is that I get to see all the magazines and books that will be sold.  The April 2009 issue of McCall's Quilting really caught my eye with a pattern for a huge tote bag.

The added bonus was that this tote is made out of five inch squares of fabrics and I needed a project for just those ingredients for a group project in November.

Here's how mine turned out:

It is about 20" wide, 10" deep and 15" tall.  The fabric I used is called 9 by Sanae and I used two Moda Charm packs, and a few strips from a Jelly roll to make this bag.  I did change the pattern slightly. 

The pattern called for three layers of fusible fleece, I used two layers.  The closure was supposed to be velcro but I used a tab weighted with a drapery weight.  I also added little feet to the bottom of the bag to protect it from the floor.

This thing is huge and would probably hold everything needed for a couple of days on the road.  My vision is that Alex and I will pack up and hit the road for a few days with all I need in this bag, and everything he needs filling up my trunk.

Have a great week!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Library

Kingwood is a bedroom community just north of Houston.  It is considered a PUD..Planned Urban Development and thus did not grow orgnically but was planned as a communter community.

There are about 70,000 people living in Kingwoodwith a great mix of nationalities and earning levels...although some people don't believe that and see it as a white, upper middle class, Southern Baptist sort of place.

Harris County runs the Library even though Kingwood was incorporated into Houston (with much rancour) in the 1990's.  Recently Houston built Kingwood a new branch library and turned it over to Harris County for day to day operations.  You can see a picture of the new building here.

Our new library is a fabulous building but I am angry about a couple of things.

First off, our library has been closed on Sunday for a very long time... maybe since it opened in the 1980's BUT now the new facility is closed Wednesdays as well.  I don't get it.  Other branches around us are open  seven days a week with fewer visitors.  Why does Kingwood get hammered in the budget wars?  I wonder if a petition would do any good.

Secondly, in a community as large as this one I would think that there would be large support for the new facilty.  Before it was built, the local Library volunteer group (FOLK - Friends of the Library Kingwood) solicited donations from the public.  From $150.00 for a brick up to $25,000.00 to furnish a conference room, individuals and businesses could get memorialized in the new building.  I looked at the brick path way the other day and only about 10% of the bricks were taken.  Where's the support for such a vital part of our community?

Here's my contribution:

Yup, I bought a brick for Alex and the Girls.  A few times, when the weather was much cooler, we would walk to and from the Library.  Also, they loved stopping there early in the morning, to drop off books before they were marked late, just to see if they could escape from the car and roam the lovely grounds..  Lady Jane also adored the Library because, on hot days when we were out and about in the car, I would carry her into the library under my arm while I made my selections.

Sorry for the rant but I think a Library is vital to a community and that fact that mine seems short-changed, when it comes to operationg hours and visible community support, really irritates me.

I promise not to cotinue this rant in future posts.  

HOWEVER if I can get a petition together, I will let you know how it goes.    

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the Road

Things I have seen while driving hither and yon lately:
  • Car being chased by the police with a white powder streaming out of one of its windows.  Ash tray cleaning or something more sinister? 
  • Big, honking SUV with a memorial to a dead boy on its back window that included a picture, the dates of his life and 'In Memoriam", all on a clear plastic panel. It creeped me out.
  • Bikes loaded on the top of a car with the bike wheels spinning in the wind.  I wonder if they had any idea that the wheels were supposed to be locked down as well.
  • Big, honking pick up truck so covered in mud that the windshield wipers couldn't clean the windshield even though the window cleaning liquid was splattering the mud all over the passing cars.
  • Debris in the road... bags of cement, concrete blocks, a ladder, several five gallon buckets and other construction stuff over five miles of road way.  Then a construction company truck on the side of the road with a puzzled driver trying to figure out why the truck bed was empty.  I waved at him.
  • While at a stop light with the dogs in the back barking at a dog in another car.  The other car had its windows open and promptly closed them when they realised my guys were barking at their guy.  Did they think Alex was going to jump through my closed window and get their dog?

And my final one:
  • People texting on their phones being physically incapable of turning on their turn signals while cruising in and out of traffic at 70+ miles an hour.  Grrrrr!

I hope your week is going well.  I am off to see the dermatologist about my spongiotta dermatitis tomorrow to see what I can do about keeping the itch away.  Please no more treatments using things with the feel of vaseline or Crisco!!!!!!!!  

Monday, May 17, 2010

Women on a Mission

A group I belong to, the Once Upon a Time Bee, is the only quilting Bee I know of that doesn't  quilt.  We sew for all sorts of charities and learn all sorts of techniques for getting these projects completed with the minimum of fuss.

Our project in May was to make ditty bags for Operation Care Package.  The bags will be filled with goodies and sent to our troops overseas.  I have heard that many of these bags make it into the hands of local kids so, even though many of the troops are manly men, more whimsical fabric choices are also acceptable.

In one evening we made about thirty of these simple draw string bags using a pattern from The Creative Thimble.  Here's how they look:
Pink Camo fabric...How cool is that?

Each bag contains a one gallon zip lock bag to protect the contents.  We also addded a calling card sized note from individual members of the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild expressing thanks and encouragment.

Most members of the Guild wrote a card and several took the instructions for making the bag.  I may end up with several more before I send them off to Joliet for distribution.

I love this kind of project as it helps to reduce stash fabrics and allows you to give back to the community. 

I will admit that I am conflicted about the whole 'supporting our troops' mentality of this type of project. 

On the one hand I hate that we, as a country, are fighting a war on terrorism against an enemy without a national identity.  This conflict is essentially un-winable as this is not a country versus country comflict.

On another hand, in the process we might be able to bring peace to a part of the world where, until recently, females of any age were not allowed out of their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. 

In addition, I have known several young men who have gone into the military and I know they will appreaciate our meager contributions to their comfort.

And then there is the young British Ranger I heard a while ago saying that it is all well and good to support the troops but to do so you must also embrace their conviction that these wars are necessary.

Unfortunately the world is not black and white and while I may be conflicted, I do hope that these bags will bring joy and comfort to someone.  After all, isn't that what charity is all about?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Canadian Socks

I finished a pair of wooly socks the other day that seem perfect of wearing under snow boots, so they are going to Canada.

You know who you are so they will not be a surprise and here is a bonus picture preview:
It seems that every other pair of socks that I knit are plain and simple and then I will do one that is a little bit more challenging.

This pair is the challenging pair.

These socks have an invisible cast on so that the top of the sock is a double thickness for durabilty.  I also tried to do a picot edge on the top of the sock and, although I did get the edge to look like a picot,  it doesn't look as interesting as I had hoped.

The yarn is from Lana Grossa and is made in Italy of virgin wool (80%) and polyamide (20%).  I though there might a problem with washing them but they came out just fine even after being put through the dryer.

I love this type of yarn as the dyed colors create such lovely patterns.  I didn't even try to match the stripe pattern from one sock to another but they came out quite close to each other... only about 10 - 15 knitted rows off....a complete surprise.

I hope your week will go well... lots of sun in the north, lots of rain in the south and may it warm up in Britain so my cousin can enjoy her new home with the windows open and the furnace off.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Yarn Twirler

No not me, my latest tool to make knitting easier for me.  My most favroite tool continues to be the Knit Kit but coming on strong is my Yarn Twirler.

Here it is in action:
A member of the Kingwood Yarn it! Darn it! group saw one at a craft fair and asked her husband to make her one.  The rest is history.

Essentially it is a dowel that goes through the center of your ball of yarn and, as you knit, your ball of yarns spins around.

It add a little bit of tension to your yarn which helps in keeping consistent tension in your project and it allows you to feed your yarn from the outside of the ball.

Truly a great tool. 

Another bonus is that Alex and the Girls are completely disinterested in my yarn when they are on this Twirler.  I don't know why but they completely ignore them.

Of course, a Yarn Twirler deserves its own bag ...

The fabric was from my stash of cute fabrics that I have no idea how I will use it and the cord is something I bought 6 - 7 years ago.  All this time I thought it was leather braided into a cord until I worked with it last night and found out it was plastic.

No more rain today... Yeah!

Here's hoping it dries out enough over night that the Dachshund meet-up tomorrow won't be in a sea of mud.  I can only hope.

Zig Zag Runner

The Cut Ups met yesterday to work on a project from the book Loose Change by Claudia Plett and Le Ann Weaver.  There are many wonderful quilts in this book that all use basic cuts of fabric.

The one we worked on was based on five inch squares of fabric to create a 30" x 12" table runner.
I have not completed mine yet (still don't know what to do about the binding) and I cheated by not adding borders but this is how it came out:
I used some of my hoarded hand dyed fabrics from Just Imagination and I like the way that the fabric seems to give additional movement to the the piece.

The Cut Ups try to do projects that are small enough to get a good chunk of the work done within a three hour period.  This project fit the bill and, thanks to Janet's prep work which included re-writing the instructions to make them more efficient, this project fit the bill perfectly.

 What took the most time was squaring up the little 4" component blocks.  When you do that 40 times, its gets a bit boring.  The thought if ding that for a full size quiltmake me cringe.

There was a complex border in the pattern, made up of flying geese rectangles, that I eliminated because I didn't want to take all that time for a basic project like this.

I hope your weekend is going well and that my local friends did not get drowned out in the thunderstorms last night.  I don't know how much rain we got but the forecast currently calls for the possibility of showers every day for the next week so I expect we will all be soggy by next weekend.

How I love the smell of soggy dog!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Surprsing Quilt Block

A dear friend in the cold north asked four of her friends to send her a yard of fabric that they loved.  I sent her a yard of a wonderful lime green fabric with silver chinese writing on it.  I have yards of it so thought it was a good choice in case she needed more it for her secret project.

I though she would try to mke a quilt for herself that incorporated our contributons.


She used each of our fabrics in a separate 24" block paper pieced blocks from one of Carol Doak's star patterns from books like this or or this .

Here's how mine turned out:

My color correction does not do justice to the vibrant colors of the background fabric I supplied.  Notice how the corner fabrics were fussy cut so that the lettering is oriented to the corners.

I don't know how to use this block... as the center for a quilt, for a pillow, for ???? but I do know that whatever I do with it, it will be impossible to match the skill and ability shown in the workmanship of this block.

Thanks Martha!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

1 2 3 Red White Blue

After Mother's Day, the next big holidays around here are Memorial Day, Father's Day and Independence Day.  I am going to have to take down the springy decorations at the restaurant and put up something patriotic and manly so I won't have to make any more changes until after the Fourth of July.

I have decided that patriotic can also be manly so I came up with this quilt:
Alex and Kimora do not understand why they can't sleep on it!
 It is supposed to look like a rail fence pattern like this:

Mine does not have the traditional stair step pattern because the Jelly Roll I used of pre-cut 2 and 1/2" strips of fabrics had lots of blue and white but very few red strips. 

Lesson learned - do not assume a nice even distirbution of colors or values just because you bought a jelly roll of fabric strips from one whole line of fabric.

The line of fabric represented here is the Hamptons from Moda Fabrics.

After I quilted it I thought it needed a little more security so I added the red buttons. 

Lots of red buttons, few red fabric strips.

Other decorating will be some of those red, white and blue fabric swags, some similar flowers and, maybe, a couple of suprises.

Sorry that I haven't been keeping up this blog recently. 

I'll try better.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!