Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Maybe when school's out I'll have the brain space for something more creative, but in the meantime I'm happily knitting along. I finished one sweater in worsted weight for the Afghans for Afghans 500 Sweater campaign, and then figured I could knock off a second one before the June deadline.
This one is knit on size 13 needles with bulky weight yarn, so it's going faster than the first. Both patterns are from Ann Budd's book The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters. I'm stash-busting with these sweaters, clearing out some odd balls of yarn. The blue, yellow and green yarn in the second sweater are actually worsted weight that I'm double-stranding to approximate bulky weight yarn, and it's working out fine. Make due is my current motto where yarn acquisition is involved. I'm making exceptions, however, for needles, patterns, and anything irresistible.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Things have been unusually busy around here, which is the reason for the hiatus, but the semester is winding down and summer offers the prospect of more creative time in the days ahead.
I may have discovered the reason why my vintage 1930s quilt blocks were abandoned in the past: it's boring to do the same thing over and over. I haven't made much more headway with them, but they're still in the sewing basket waiting for me to be in the right mood.
Instead, I've been working on some knitting projects. Currently on the needles is a top-down child's sweater for the Afghans for Afghans campaign to donate 500 handknit sweaters to a girls' school in Afghanistan. I'm using up leftover yarn to boot. The body of the sweater is almost done, then I'll pick up the sleeve stitches and knit those, and add some ribbing to the neck. The sweaters are due in early summer if anyone feels inspired to contribute.
I also made this easy and attractive scarf: The Favorite Scarf Ever by Lisa Bruce, with some self-stripping sock yarn. The scarf was a well-received birthday present for a friend.
At the end of last year I cast on this sweater for myself: Miss BB by Bonne Marie Burns. It's a fun knit and the tailored design is great for work.
I couldn't resist adding this snazzy ribbon as button band reinforcement. It makes me cheerful just knowing that ribbon is hiding on the inside of my work sweater.
I have had some good news: my quilt "St. Francis Preaches to the Birds" will be part of the Sacred Threads show this summer.
I hope to resume more regular posts. That's my plan anyway.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
I finished one block in my 30s quilt block kit. I completed the embroidery on the one block that had the applique already finished and buttonhole stitched down.
An 80 year-old UFO can be a bit grimy. I soaked it for several hours in detergent and oxyclean. Toward the end, I treated the spots with some Fels Naptha, which is my stain remover of last resort.
The spotting on the block has faded, but it's still there. I have resolved that I won't let that bother me. This piece has earned its age spots. I think the darkest stain on the middle left may be a rust stain from a needle that was left in the fabric, since it's near where the previously embroidered section ended and the green embroidery thread was left hanging.
I'm going to adjust my thread colors for the next block. I want a darker yellow and I found a couple of darker greens in my stash. These blocks are 17 x 17 inches, so there's some room for trimming when it comes time to set them in a quilt top.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I've pulled out a UFO to finish. This project has been in my stash for several years, I bought 12 of these waterlily applique and embroidery blocks for $6.00, maybe ten years ago. A couple of the blocks have some of the stamped applique pieces basted down, but most of the stamped blocks are bare and I have the corresponding stamped applique pieces for all of the blocks.
The appliques have a stamp that says the kit was copyrighted by the Rainbow Quilt Block Co. in 1932, 81 years ago.
On one block the applique has been completed, and a meticulous buttonhole stitch has been applied to the edges.
The green thread from the outline embroidery has been left hanging in a tantalizing way. Who started this kit, and why was it abandoned? Maybe finishing this kit will lead me to some clues as to the story of this project. Maybe completing this old UFO will allow some needle worker's spirit to rest a bit more peacefully.
I began with the important task of getting the right supplies. All the pieces are in good shape, though some of the blocks have "beauty spots," stains of unknown origin. At one point I washed one of the stamped blocks in oxyclean to see how much of the staining will come out with a good wash, and it came out nice and white, if not totally spotless.
When the blocks are done, I've got a drawer full of 30s fabrics I want to use to make complimentary pieced blocks for the finished quilt. That's my plan anyway.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
I recently heard that I have won the Philip Levine Book Prize for my manuscript Mexican Jenny and Other Poems. The book will be published this year by Anhinga Press, a respected independent literary publisher.
I have been overwhelmed by this good news. I deeply respect and admire the work of both Philip Levine, in whose honor the contest was established, and of Cornelius Eady, the contest judge, so this recognition is especially meaningful to me.
The title poem of this collection is a biographical poem about a woman who, legend has it, made a crazy quilt while she was incarcerated for murdering her violent partner, a man who was also her pimp. Although "Mexican Jenny" is based on the slim outline of the story of a real woman, I have filled in the gaps of history with my own fiction making. Since Jenny was a quilter, what I have learned over the last 13 years as a quilt maker myself, showed me the way to tell her story.
The pen and the needle are powerful tools that allow us to speak about human experience.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
I finished this wall hanging, remarkably close to on-time, thanks to the
Here are several close-ups.
The blocks, sashing and binding were joined by hand because I felt it gave me the most control when working with the shape-shifting sizes of these blocks.
I used an assortment of buttons, beads and some quilting stitches to bind the top layer to the backing.
There are the medals of St. Francis (with birds swirling around his head) and St. Clare, who I've been told is the patron saint of embroiderers. These, and the lace panel of the Virgin Mary, were brought back from Italy by my friend Cathrine.
For the backing, I used this vintage upholstery panel.
Here's what the finished quilt back looks like. I still have to attach the hangings sleeve at the top, and add the label, which will go into the space below the tree.
With this project done, the rest of the year is wide open for new projects. We'll see what jumps onto the design wall from here.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Part of my lag in putting this crazy quilt together has been thinking through a plan for how to deal with some of the structural challenges. Despite my intentions, I ended up with blocks in a range of sizes, so I decided to baste them to some gridded interfacing in order to line them up more or less evenly.
In a few places I ended up with some gaps between the block and the sashing, like you can see above. In the lower block I inserted a piece of green ribbon, and in the upper block, I added a piece of woven ribbon Allie Aller sent me a few years ago, set at an angle. If you look at the quilt in the photo below, you can see these are the top two blocks in the center column, and you can see the repair.
I've got the horizontal sashing almost completely sewn down. I've cut the sashing with over-wide seam allowances, which I've pressed down on one side only. I hand stitch the pressed side down, then turn and hand stitch the other side, coping with any irregularities as I go. The vertical sashing is ready to be stitched, and I've chosen this fussy cut border print for the outer border. I can see the end in sight!