Friday, February 28, 2014

On the Needles - 2/28/14

I finally got to add some AQUA to my Swing Cowl!

Doesn't that brighten it up nicely?

This is a fun project, even though I do have to keep close track of the rows and how many stitches are on each short row.  I figure I'm close to being halfway on this.  I love the design and the way the colors flow through it!  I've had to manipulate that a little by breaking off occasionally and starting a new color.  Some of the colors ran quite long, while others (like the nice bright orange) ran a little short.  So far, I'm very happy with this project and already thinking another one may be in my future :)

My knitted swatch for Rocio  is very pretty - love that colorplay! - but unfortunately it did not turn out perfectly after blocking -  did I really think it would?  Nah!

Length measurement.....

Width measurement.....

The directions said....
       Gauge:   26 st and 34 rows to 4 inches, on 3.5mm needles, in stockinette
                     stitch, AFTER BLOCKING.

..... which I did.  But the swatch did not turn out square for one thing, and it is not 4" either way.  It is 4.25" long and 3.75" wide!  So too large in length and too small in width - yikes!  And I can't be sure I didn't pull too much here or there while blocking?  Blocking is a new technique to me.  Should I have shaped it to 4" square?

Now I don't quite know what to do!  I'm thinking maybe I need to go down one size in my needles, perhaps to a #3 - 3.25mm?  Too long for the length indicates to me that the needle is a little large, and since I'll probably loosen up as I knit on this, too narrow for the width probably won't be a problem for long.  Any advice from you experts out there???

I'd love to start on this sweater, but I don't want to put in a lot of work that just has to be torn out because it doesn't fit.  I signed up for Amy Herzog's class on Craftsy, "Knit to Flatter" - hopefully I can find some time this weekend to begin working through it.  I think it will help me a lot with this sweater :)

No new yarn added this week, and nothing finished, so no changes to my Yarn Stash report.

So what's on your needles?
Join in this week's party at Patchwork Times!

Hugs & Blessings!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A New Week.....

Life is beginning to get back to what passes for "normal" around here, 
and I want to say a heartfelt THANKS to all of YOU!!! 
Your outpouring of love and comfort and prayers  
has meant the world to me, and I love you all!!! 

Sorry - it's a little blurry :(
But it makes up for it with COLOR, right????
This is my NewFO Challenge project for February ......
Diamonds are Forever

I had the pleasure of taking part in a class given at our Music City Guild this past week and completed one large block, which looks like this.....

It is actually 4 small 6-inch string blocks put together into a larger 12-inch block.  The string blocks started out like this....

These were so much fun, and I loved the play of these colors together so much, that I came home and put together a few more of these little string blocks so I could get that lovely diamond effect to begin shining through as each block was added to the sides of the first large block - YUM!!!

I can see that I seem to have some of my colors running together, but I don't think that will matter once the entire quilt is assembled.  This quilt is from the below book by Virginia (Ginger) Baker & Barbara (Bobbie) Sanders - and these lovely ladies also taught the class :)

Amazon Link HERE
I'll also link up with Sharon at Vrooman Quilts for her Let's Book It party with this project :*)
I love actually using my quilt books for a change LOL!!!

As you can see from the cover photo, the authors made their quilt with black as the neutral star points in the background, and civil war prints for the colorful strings.  I've seen this quilt made with black and jewel colored fabrics - and let me tell you.... it was just simply FABULOUS!!!!  However, I've done quite a lot of quilt projects lately using that color palette, so I really wanted to do something different.

My first decision had to be what I wanted to use for the background - the star points - and black was not allowed as an option.  And then, what colors would be brought out to play with it?  These are the fabrics I ended up with......

My first thought was to use the same fabric for the background star points throughout for continuity.  But I am really short of large chunks of fabrics that would work as a neutral.  See that lime solid in the upper left background?  I had about 5 yards of that, which would have been plenty for the star points as well as a nice outer border.  But lime?  Wow!!!  You all know I love color, but I had to be sure it was "beautiful" colorful, not "circus clowns" colorful LOL!!!  I gave quite a lot of thought to whether I really wanted to use lime, but then I got the bright idea to use the print you see at the very top as a tool for pulling other colors to play with the lime.  Of course, this was easy to do because they turned out to be some of my favorites!  Fuscia! Violet! Blue! Aqua! Purple!

After I had it all together, I was disappointed to realize that the solid lime looked too tame with all that sparkle, kind of flat - which of course led to the choice of using lots of different limes to get variety and sparkle!  Why should the strips be the only ones to shine, right?

Even after I had it all laid out though, I was still not quite sure it was going to work together okay.  How could I be sure before I cut all that fabric and invested so much time and effort?  I decided to tackle my EQ7 to see if I had progressed enough in my lessons to be able to draft this quilt and then try out some color plans before I did any cutting .....

       ..........  I think I did okay - what do you think?????

This is my favorite colorway!

I have to tell you - I am HOOKED!!!  
EQ7 is serious FUN!!!
And all that power can go to a girl's head, you know what I mean?

Here are a few more colorways I played with  ....

Of course, I loved the next few, but the black background was not allowed ...... maybe someday?

So that is what is on my Design Wall today - in addition to my February Dinosaur UFO which is getting some serious work done to it in the next few days!

Amish Beauties - center done and awaiting border treatments
I'll share more about this one when it is finished.  I'm hoping to get it to the flimsy stage by Tuesday :*)  I'm also slowly stitching on the March Bertie's Year BOM, which will probably not get done by March 1....

Most of the pieces are now appliqued down and I'm ready to make the half-square triangles for the border.  Next will be the embroidery embellishments - my favorite part of these little quilts!!!  Well, except for enjoying them once they are finished, of course :*)  

I'm a little late, but linking up with Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching party anyway.
Also linking up with Connie's Tuesday Linky Party and What a Hoot's BOM's Away!
Come join in on the fun - link up your projects too!!!

Hope everyone has a lovely week!  We are expecting gorgeous weather until the weekend, when it is supposed to turn cold again.  But I'm not going to complain about that .... no indeed!  I'm just thrilled that we've been given this current reprieve, and that SPRING is finally on it's way - woohoo!!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Catching Up.....

I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day!!!!  

Unfortunately, the occasion was a very sad one at our household, which I'll tell you a little more about later in the post.  This morning, I'm just popping in quickly to catch up a little on sharing with you a few stitchy things that are going on around here!

Earlier in the week I found a little time to start on my PINK Hootie for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. All her feathers are now fused to the background and ready to be stitched down!

And here she is with her older brother in BLUE ....

They are both waiting for their third litte sibling in this row, so they can finally have a nice brown branch to rest upon :)  These are such fun little blocks - I can hardly wait until the next color!!!

The March Bertie's Year arrived this week too!

I'm not sure that I really care for the borders on this one.  I may change them to something else - perhaps it may be just a little too stark for me in that bold yellow?  But then again, it may grow on me - it does go along with the "bee" theme very well :)  However, I DO love Bertie with her bee hood and that precious little bee buzzing happily around it's hive, not to mention the subtle, clever addition of shamrocks ♥  I'll be working on this a little today and linking up with Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching party :)

So for some sad sharing .....  the reason I've been absent from the blog the past few days is because we lost a wonderful part of our family on Wednesday.

My father-in-law, George, passed away after a very brave battle with pulmonary fibrosis.  It was a tough time for my sweet husband and his family!  George was a lovely man and a beloved father and grandfather - he will be missed so very, very much!!!

He accepted me into his family from the first moment he met me, and I appreciated that gift more than he could ever know.

Most of all, I appreciate the way he taught my husband how to be a father.  Not every man is a gifted father, but my husband definitely is, and I know that gift was acquired by his father's example ♥  I look forward to seeing George's lovely smile again one day!

Hugs & Blessings!

Friday, February 14, 2014

On The Needles - 2/14/14

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Doesn't this look like the most yummy Valentine's Day lunch EVER???

Well, actually, it was my neighbor's lunch last week when a group of us went to The Chocolate Strawberry as a Divas Guild outing :)  But I fell in love with that little heart dipping bowl! ♥♥♥♥♥♥ !!!  Right?  And I just knew you would too :*)  The sandwich was a Monte Cristo, which I've never eaten - no really, never!  But you can bet I will order one of these decadent sandwiches the next time we are at TCS!!! :)

Here is what I did order .....

Chicken salad on a fresh croissant - YUM!!!!!  
It was absolutely delicious!
But I'm still kinda hankering for that Monte Cristo, ya know what I mean LOL!!!

And TCS serves one of THESE on every plate....

I asked for dark chocolate and they had some!

....... sorry, I had to take a little break there and get a little snack :)

Soooooooo, on my needles this week has been repair work on my Wingspan - remember this big hole I showed you last week that suddenly appeared after I had blocked it?

Well, Denise at Justquiltin shared some wonderful advice with me, and it worked!!!

No more hole!!!  Thanks Denise!!!
It's slightly misshapen there, but hey, it looks tons better than that hole, and I'm a happy girl!!!
So now this is officially a finish - yay!!! :)

I started the second House Targaryen sock but forgot to take pictures - bad girl!!!  Of course, there's not really much to show yet anyway, so perhaps you'll forgive me this time?  I hear what you're thinking.... and No!  You can't have my chocolate covered strawberry!!!!

I've added a couple of strata to my Swing Cowl .....

..... if you click on the name it will take you to the page for this project at Ravelry, and you will see Denise's project as the main picture!  Isn't that cool????  Hers is the one I fell in love with and just had to make my own - it's gorgeous :)

And last, but not least, I also got my yarn wound into balls to start Rocio....that new yarn swift I got for Christmas is THE BOMB!!!  Those balls were wound lickety-split, and not one curse word left my lips :*)

I wondered about the name.  A quick check of the name Rocio on the Net said that "Rocio is a small genus of cichlid fishes from Mexico and northern Central America."  I think those little lacy motifs look somewhat like fish, so perhaps that is why the designer gave it that name?  Of course, I think they look more like leaves than fish, so who am I to say :)

So that's what's on my needles.... check out more fun needly projects at Judy's Patchwork Times!

Hugs & Blessings!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Design Wall Monday - 2/10/14

Today, let me show you a few things that are NOT on my Design Wall ....   because they are FINISHED!!!!

The First Noel

29" X 29"
Gotta LOVE classic blue and white!!!  This was a Guild Mystery quilt a few years ago, designed by Melissa Gann of the Doodlehead Stitches blog.  She gave us instructions for both a large and small wall quilt - of course I chose the small :)  This has been a pieced flimsy for several years now, and I'm delighted to have it finished!!!

Our Guild started a new UFO Challenge this year.  We were to make a list of twelve UFO projects we wanted to accomplish this year.  Then the VP calls out a number each month, and we are to complete the item listed on that number.  The thing I really like about this challenge is that you don't have to list an entire quilt project.  We could list, "finish 5 blocks" on a UFO, or "apply borders" to another - which is much easier than "finish my Dear Jane!"  Getting The First Noel quilted was my #5 for February.

I did a lot of stitch-in-the-ditch around the blocks because I liked the design a lot!  Then I used a Lori Kennedy (Inbox Jaunt blog) snowflake motif around the tree in an iridescent metallic thread - I really liked that effect, although the thread gave me fits!!!

Below is a look at the back which gives a good view of the quilting.  It was draped over the back of a chair, so it's not laying flat :)

The next finish is probably one of my oldest Dinosaur UFO's.....

Indian Summer

Trimming it up for the binding :*)

This was one of the first quilts I ever lusted after LOL!!!  

In my first year of quilting - really in the first few months - one of the ladies in my sit-n-sew group who lived near me asked if I wanted to go with her to The Quilters Attic, a quilt shop in Goodlettsville.  Of course I said yes!!!   This quilt shop is located in an old building with a lovely upstairs display room.  Their Indian Summer was hung up really high, overlooking the room, and it simply took my breath away!  I just stood there, mouth agape, and stared at it!  I told myself if I ever made a quilt that beautiful, I would then consider myself a "real quilter"!!!

So, I suppose I am now a "real quilter" LOL!!!  Within the year I had purchased the Judy Niemeyer pattern and some lovely batiks to make it.  But I couldn't start right away because I had not yet learned how to paper-piece.  Soon after, a lady in my Guild offered to teach us how to paper-piece during one of our scheduled sit-n-sews.  Paper-piecing was love at first stitch for me!

This was my first true paper-piecing project, and it is still one of my favorite quilts!  However, the finished quilt top sat again - for years! - waiting for me to grow my FMQ skills.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Joanne let me know that I could have a day on her longarm if I wanted it - did I ever!!!!  I had this quilt and backing already in a bag, ready to go.....

And now it's a finished quilt!!!!

Well, okay..... it's all trimmed up and the binding strips are cut - I'll have it bound and done by the end of the week :*)  GOSH!!!  Isn't it nice to have FINISHES?  This Dinosaur UFO is now extinct and has been marked off my list.

What's on your Design Wall?  
Check out all the great projects at Judy's Patchwork Times!!!

Also linking up with:
Freemotion by the River - Tuesday Linky Party
Confessions of a Fabric Addict - Can I Get a Whoop! Whoop!

Hugs & Blessings!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

First Pink RSC Saturday

I was happy to find some time to play in my PINK scraps this week!

This is my PINK Soul Searching block.... 
Love those bright PINKS!!!

I have the pieces traced off for the PINK Hootie Owl, so hopefully I'll have him ready to show off next week :)  I'm hoping to get some blocks made from my crumb jar this month too.  As I shared earlier, my pink scraps are pretty slim, but it will be nice to get them polished off, won't it?  I can't imagine actually having an empty jar!!!

Are you playing in your PINK scraps this month?
Share with us at SoScrappy!


Hugs & Blessings!

Friday, February 7, 2014

On the Needles - 2/7/14

Quilting has been getting most of my creative mojo this past week, but I'm excited to share this FINISH with you ....

Wingspan is done!!! 

I ran into one little roadblock however....  

When I blocked it, which of course stretches out the stitches, a hole appeared!!!  
Right smack dab in the middle of the shawl!

Wow!  I have no idea how that happened, but I suspect it was because I was thinking this was such an easy knit and just not paying enough attention to what I was doing.  It looks like a yarn-over got in there somehow - which is really strange, since that section is just pure garter stitching - go figure!!!  So I suppose it's really not quite done until I figure out how I'm going to repair the hole.  However, I am very happy with this project overall and look forward to wearing it one day soon.

I wore my Cloud Illusions shawl to Guild last Tuesday for the first time and got rave reviews :)  I forgot to get a picture to share with you all though - I'll do better next time!

The red House Targaryen socks are still in process, as is my Swing Cowl.  They will both be getting more love now that Wingspan is done :)  And I'm thinking I may start my Rocio sweater soon :*)

This week's yarn report -
Yards stashed YTD - 2,200
Yards purchase this week - 0
Yards used this week - 400
Net yards stashed - 1,800

What's on your needles?
Share at Judy's Patchwork Times today!

Hugs & Blessings!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The "Story" of My Life

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I have a very deep love affair with books!

Hardback books, softback books, ebooks, audio books, old books, new books - you name the type, and I love them!!!  I love the feel, smell, shape and, most of all, the promise of books!  (I especially love the hardback books by Knopf with the raggedy edges - I've been known to buy those even when the story was iffy LOL! :*)

I love to display my books along with favorite knick-knacks on book shelves :*)
And as you're about to see, I have quite a few books - some read and beloved and sitting proudly on one of my NINE bookcases, many others just sitting around in piles waiting for me to decide if they are keepers or not .....

Stacked near my morning "quiet-time" chair

Hiding in boxes in closets

Lurking behind closed cabinet doors

I pick them up at yard sales, clearance sales, Goodwill, hand-me-downs from others, etc.  It's real hard for me to say no to a book, especially a book on sale :)  Cleaning up these piles is one of my SIMPLIFY objectives this year, so it's only natural that I decided to join Sarah Did It's Bibliophile Files linky party each month :)  Sarah challenged us to choose our own challenge, which was great because I knew exactly what I needed to do.  My plan is to go through these piles and choose at least 10 books each month to read through enough that I can decide whether it is a keeper or not, and then either put it on a shelf or dispose of it.  Hopefully there will be no more piles of "To Be Read" books by the end of the year!

Note - long story coming up!!!
Books have always been a part of the major times in my life.  And I thought it might be fun to occasionally share some of the stories of my life as I link up each month.  So if you'd like to hear a personal story, I'm about to share one from my childhood.  If not, however, this is your cue to drop to the bottom, leave a sweet comment to let me know you visited and go on your merry way - I promise I won't be offended! =^..^=

I am told I have always loved books, and indeed some of my favorite memories are of the books I loved as a child....

My first memory of a special book was Maybelle the Goat (which may or may not be correct since I haven't been able to find one anywhere since).  I was six years old and had just been plucked from the city of Baltimore and plopped down in the wilds of a farm in North Carolina.  A new stepdaddy, a new baby half-brother, and a half-sister on the way.  A strange new world to live in indeed, and my young life had changed BIG TIME!

There were two old country houses on the farm, a tiny, white two-room box for us - so small they had to build a bathroom on, and a much older, huge ramshackle red one for my stepfather's parents.  They were old country farming people, hairless (not her - she had a lovely bun!) and toothless, and they smelled funny - totally foreign to this little city girl, and even a little scary!  Grandpa had a big knot on his bald forehead and steely blue eyes that cut right through me. Grandma seemed nice enough, but she cooked strange food I had never heard of before, and she even chewed and spit "tobacky" as she called it :)  She was nothing like my beloved Granny I had left behind in Baltimore!!!

The "new" homeplace was also nothing like what I was used to!  Huge, wonderful pecan trees lining the long, dirt drive - perfect for climbing and sitting in with a good book once I figured out how to get past the trunk - and I can still remember the joy of picking the nuts up off the ground, cracking those hard shells which stained my fingers, and eating the delicious meats inside....a dark, scary-looking woods in back with swamps abounding and the threat of snakes.....even darker, scarier, smelly buildings that housed huge creatures called cows that my mother was expected to procure our milk from each morning, and the new smells of hay and corn and dung... riding the big yellow bus to and from school each day for what seemed like hours..... and everywhere the white cotton fields and wide open spaces of the countryside .... culture shock for sure!  I remember feeling lonely and lost, without a friend in the world.

But not for long..... I had noticed a calico cat around the farm and called to it several times, but it was too wary of me and wouldn't come near no matter how hard I tried.  But then one day, I was sitting on the back steps of our little house, reading from the aforementioned Maybelle book from my school library, totally unaware that she had come near.  Suddenly, lo and behold that little cat just walked right up to me and began purring and rubbing up against me!  So began my life-long love affair with cats!!!  Of course I named her Maybelle!

From that day on, Maybelle was my best friend, all through my childhood.  Every day when I came home from school, the first thing I did was go outside and call for Maybelle, and she always came running.  I was horrified when I came home one day to find that her beautiful long tail had become a 3-inch bloody stump!  Come to find out, my stepfather's father had chopped her tail off because he said it would make her catch more mice!  Yes, seems my instincts were right and there was a reason I was scared of him!  I suppose I should just be grateful he didn't chop off her head, right?  Years later I learned that he had "disposed" of each litter of kittens when they were found.  I'm glad I didn't know that as a child.

Tail or no tail, Maybelle lived for many years and made my childhood a happier one.  I think of her often with such fond memories :)  She was the first of many wonderful long-lasting relationships I have had with some special cats, and many are the cats that have graced my lap during long, lovely reading sessions!  I look forward to spending quite a while visiting some of my little friends on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge when I finally go to Heaven :*)

At the next linky party I'll share the 10 books I reviewed this month, whether or not I kept them, and why. And if I've read a good book that month, I'll be sure to share a short review with you too!

 Hope you'll come along for the journey!!!

Hugs & Blessings

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