Sunday, November 19, 2017

Boxed In

I started this quilt 3 years ago at a Seattle MQG quilting retreat. I had a pile of Cotton & Steel basics on one hand and a stack of packing paper from my recent move to Seattle on the other. My sewing room was filled with boxes and I felt trapped in it when I sat at my sewing machine. Such little space and so many things to fit into the tiny room. It was quite a discomfort to downsize drastically from our sprawling residence in NJ. It was as if the walls were closing in on me. I poured this feeling on paper and came up with a variant on the log cabin called "Boxed In"

Like all quilts it's beginnings were very humble. The first time I drew a schematic and picked a few colors from the stack and got started.

Each block took me about 5 to 6 hours from start to finish. Since I was making it up as I went along it took me a long time to get things just right. Many a time I had to go back and rework the template. 

Progress was slow. I did not have enough wall space to see how the quilt was progressing. 

I would take it to retreats as the only project to work on in an attempt to finish it, but it took so long to make each block that I returned from a few retreats without completing it.

At one such retreat, Debbie from A Quilter's Table took a picture of me knee deep into it.

At one point I thought I was almost done with the 3x3 configuration but something about the proportion of the quilt did not sit right with me. I decided to add one more row. As it got larger, piecing the blocks together got increasingly difficult. The thin lines would not stay straight and I had to redo the seams a few times. I had to glue multiple pieces of paper together for the multi block template. Not an easy task in a small sewing area.

Putting all the blocks together was perhaps the hardest thing for me. I had to try a few times before it all lay flat. 

Once I was done piecing I had hoped to quilt it such that the lines echoed the block design. Having spent my energy on the piecing, I struggled to muster up enthusiasm to quilt it. This is when I turned to my dear friend and fellow quilter Krishma Patel. I conveyed my overall plan but mostly left it to her. This is a progress picture she sent me and I could not contain my excitement. I knew I had made the right choice by sending it to her.

Finally it arrived at my door step. I faced it, this has become my go to binding method these days. Waited for a clear day to take some pictures and here it is.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Learning to Crochet - VI

This is the last post in my series. I guess at this point I have quite a bit of crochet under my belt and even though I am still a beginner certainly not a novice.

Where next? Sweaters, socks, shawls, afghans. Endless choices. 
Also now I feel equipped enough to buy more luxurious wool yarn for my projects.

Just like designer fabric there is a ton of designer yarn available.
Some of my favorites are:

On the other end of the spectrum is crocheted lace. I ordered a set of finer crochet hooks.

I perhaps need to invest in a pair of magnifying lenses before I tackle that. :)

Then there are variations on crochet tatting, u-pin. And of course knitting!
For now I am content with quilting with crochet on the side.

Hopefully you found the posts informational and can perhaps help you pick up a new hobby. Let me know if you have questions or need more details on anything, would be willing to help.

To sign off, here is some extreme crocheting. I chanced upon the work of Jo Hamilton at the Seattle Art Fair. I was absolutely blown away and had never seen anything like it.

And then there is the work of Susanna Bauer. Crocheted magnolia leaves, stones and wood. Amazing stuff.

And then there are some crochet installations by Joana Vasconcelos. I have not seen any of her works in person, but would love to.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Learning to Crochet - V

On a quick visit to Target to get some essentials I chanced on some yarn in the sale bin. There were two sets of two balls of yarn. I loved the colors and decided to make small cushions with them. Since I only had two balls of yarn each I decided to make one square side till the yarn ran out and repeat for the next ball of yarn.

I particularly love this one with the metallic strand in it.

Once I had two sides I used a closely matched plain yarn to join them. I used a single crochet on three sides. However the seam was not as nice looking at the back of the cushion, so I went around an created a faux chain to even out the look.

I devised my own method of making a zippered fabric lining to allow for washing later. I hand sewed the lining and zipper to the woolen shell. In this case I added some ticker tape for a bit of interest. I even washed the pillow to make sure the stitching holds up and it did!

Now that I was a little more confident of my skills I ventured into my local yarn shop, The Tea Cozy Yarn Shop. It is the most adorable little shop. For the first time I was looking at yarn in person, touching and feeling the fibers. I was introduced to a whole bunch of designer yarns. Having already hoarded fabric when I started quilting, this time around I am determined to only buy yarn by the project. I was still itching to crochet something in cotton and use twisted cotton this time. I chanced upon Ultra Pima from Cascade Yarns. I immediately thought of making a cushion for the living room.

I had liked the texture of Bobble stitch I mentioned earlier and got started.

A week later I had a completed pillow. I love how the invisible zipper is truly invisible.

A little more detail on the two sided seam.

I am thoroughly enjoying using this pillow and plan to make more.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Learning to Crochet - IV

Having crocheted mainly with acrylic and cotton I now diverted my attention to more non traditional fibers. My mom gave me some scrap cording from her projects. It is actually metallic silk covered cotton cording for bags.

I made some small pouches with these. They look so dressy. I am still waiting to find appropriate zippers to finish them.  I used only one type of stitch to make each pouch. I like this better than a more patterned look.

I would like to source more of this cording, but cannot seem to find it anywhere. I am open to recommendations if you know where I can get more. An accent pillow made with this would be great.

Next I looked towards using finer cotton thread and make some doilies. Frankly doilies are not my thing. I don't really like the look but to give it a try I made a place mat using a tutorial from Purl Soho.

And a tiny one for my bedside table.

I think I am done with doilies for now...attention strays to a new project......

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Learning to Crochet - III

All along I was eager to try making Granny Squares. All the colorful scrappy afghans I had seen on Instagram was what had prompted me to learn crochet and I was ready to try one on my own. What came as a surprise to me was there is a classic granny square block and a ton of variations on the block.
I mean the possibilities are endless. I waded through a lot of patterns and ultimately settled on the Sunburst Granny Square.

I decided I wanted to make the granny square quilt in cotton. I researched cotton yarn and found that I really liked the color and texture of DMC Natura Just Cotton yarn. I wanted bright cheery colors and settled on the combination below. Each finished square measures 4 inches so I need to make about 360 blocks for a small throw. This is definitely a long term project.

I found this yarn to be splitty. Like I mentioned earlier it is low twist so it feels a lot softer but you have to be careful not to leave strands out. Oh well, live and learn. Another thing with granny squares is burying threads. No matter when you bury them, while making the squares or later it takes a while. Next time perhaps I will not change the colors as much.

I have been slowly chipping away making blocks but have a long way to go.

The little baskets I made earlier are coming in handy. This project is pretty portable.

While this project continues in the background I diverted my attention to more short term projects that I will cover next.