Sunday, 19 October 2014

Show & Tell: Lace Enchantment Afghan

I decided I should have another Show & Tell linky party as I haven't had one in quite some time. I haven't been very enthusiastic about them any more as the most links I ever got was 4. Not exactly a great response. More often I got none. But then I'm not a quilting or crocheting celebrity or a celebrity of any kind. And I am not so well off that I can afford to offer giveaways on a regular basis. Although I really like giveaways - both winning and giving. However, I really hate to part with fabric. Or thread. Or books. And I don't have "connections" that will sponsor the giveaways. Anyway, I decided I would try another linky party before my inlinkz subscription expires in November.
As I was considering this linky party, I wasn't sure what I was going to share. The Unbroken quilt is not finished yet. I haven't put the lining in my Tunisian crochet bag, so it's not finished either (though the crochet part is). And I was sitting there pondering this with an afghan that I had just finished sitting in my lap. Duh! Yes, I finally finished the Lace Enchantment afghan. Here it is:
Somehow this afghan ended up quite a bit wider than it was supposed to, so I decided it could be a bit shorter than it was supposed to as well. It was plenty big enough already. The instructions said to end after a row 6 of the pattern. I had just started a row 4, so finished 4, 5 & 6 and fastened off. I think this was rated as an intermediate pattern. It had a 6 row pattern repeat, so it was a little more challenging to do while watching a video, which is how I usually crochet. I had to make sure I knew which row I was on and double check what the pattern was for that row. As a result, it took me longer to complete than an easier pattern, such as the Firecracker Throw. (You can see my version of it in this post). I'm going to try to resist the temptation to start a new project and finish one of the other projects already in progress. It'll be easier to keep my house tidy and organized if I don't have random totebags of crocheting projects everywhere.
I haven't yet shared some of my latest finds at my LQS:
First a note that Mystery was not found at my LQS - LOL. If you've followed my blog at all, you know that as soon as I put any fabric on the floor, he has to be right there. I'm kind of surprised, but very happy, that he didn't try to get on the afghan. My cats are not declawed and yarn catches on claws very easily, so I try to keep them off the afghans as much as possible. They get pretty insulted that they're not allowed on my lap if I'm either covered with or working on one.
All of the items on top of the fabric came from a basket labelled $3 each. That's right - I got an ergonomic 60 mm rotary cutter for $3, plus two extra blades for it at $3 each. Unfortunately, it's not a common brand (Martelli) and apparently only uses its own brand of blades. However, I did find them on, so I can replace them there when I need to. I prefer not to pay shipping at all, but I'd rather ship from within Canada if possible. I'm not about to run around or call around to every LQS I can find to see if they sell them. Even if I couldn't find the blades, at $3, I could just consider it disposable when I use up the blades I have. The other things I got from the $3 basket are a quilting pattern, a 3-1/2 inch square ruler and a cutting mat scraper. I already have one of these scrapers, but an extra one will come in handy, especially at that price.
As for the fabric in the picture (purchased at two separate times), I'm assuming they're bolt ends, end of the fabric line, etc. Full metres (that's 39.37 inches, for those of you not on the metric system) are 4 for $10, half metres are 4 for $5. There are 8 of each in this picture, all good quality quilting cotton. At that price, maybe I should buy some more and offer it in a giveaway!
Finally, a quilting work in progress:
As you can see, I haven't sewn the rows together yet. This is the Australian Tailor's Quilt found in this book:
I love this book because I love quilting, history and learning about different cultures. This book has all three. I was upset because my copy went missing for awhile (too many moves, still not everything unpacked, moving furniture and stuff from room to room...), but found it again when I was looking for something else. (Right now the quarter inch foot for one of my sewing machines is missing, but that's small enough to have gotten sucked up by a vacuum cleaner :-()  I almost bought another copy on Amazon before I found it. Now that I've found it, I'm hoping to get this quilt finished. The background information for this quilt is that during the Great Depression in Australia, thrifty quilters utilized tailor's suiting samples to make quilts. The directions in the book tell how much fabric to purchase, but I actually had some suiting samples to make mine from, so mine is pretty authentic! I have to decide what I'm going to do with borders, binding and backing. I've got lots of samples left, but most of them are dark, so won't provide much contrast. I have an old sheet that I'm considering for the backing. I bought it at a yard sale because it was the duplicate of one my mother had. Mom passed away in 1998, so I'm sentimental about that sheet. On the other hand, I do have a lot of samples left, so could also make a pieced backing with them. As for the batting, I'm thinking of going with a wool since the primary fibre in the samples is wool. At least I'm assuming so - the tailor's samples I lucked into didn't come with content labels, but most good quality men's suits are wool, aren't they? Hmm, maybe there were some content labels many moons ago. I think I recollect peeling some stickers off some of them. Yes, I did forget to mention that I started this quilt years ago. How many years? Not sure, but it was while I was still with my husband and we split in 2006. So, it's high time to get this quilt finished. Actually, this is not the only pre-divorce WIP that I have. As the marriage deteriorated, I felt less and less like pursuing my hobbies. Thank God those days are over and it's all water under the bridge now. Back to the Australian Tailor's Quilt, the instructions say to tie it with wool yarn. While that may be more authentic, I don't really like tied quilts. So I'm considering quilting it with Aurifil Lana. I have one spool in a beige, but don't really want that colour for this quilt. Lana comes in some awesome colours. Alex Veronelli generously provided me with colour cards for both Lana and Mako. The Lana comes in some beautiful tweedy-looking variegations that I think will work well. The problem is finding Lana. And, as mentioned, I prefer dealing with Canadian vendors because of the shipping (and patriotism, too). My LQS doesn't sell Aurifil at all. Johnson's Sewing Centre, my Aurifil dealer in Edmonton, only sells Mako 50. Then I remembered Tristan Italian Threads, a vendor in BC that is clearing out all of its Aurifil thread. Why, I have no idea. They're now selling other Italian threads that I have never heard of outside of this website, but the Aurifil is on at bargain basement prices. Very little selection left in Mako 50 (mostly reds and oranges), but still lots of choices in other weights. And Lana. So, if you're looking for some Aurifil, hurry on over to Tristan's website and stock up! They ship internationally as well. Another great Canadian vendor for Aurifil is ByTowne Threads: good selection and prices.
Now that I've yakked on long enough, it's your turn to share your links of what you've been up to.

Show & Tell Guidelines
  1. Link up any recent post that features your current creative project. And it can be a work in progress as well.
  2. Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search.
  3. Somewhere in your blog post, you must link back to my blog or put the 'Show & Tell' button in your sidebar. 
  4. Please don't just add your link and go. Check out a few of the other links and comment. The best idea is to check out the 3 or 4 links just previous to yours. That way every link will get visited. And maybe you'll pick up a few new followers along the way.
  5. You don't have to follow me to post your link on my blog, but that would be much appreciated.
  6. Have fun. This is a party after all.
Here's my button:
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Friday, 17 October 2014

Machine Quilting Class #4 - Final Class

For this class, we were supposed to bring in a project to practice on. While a few of us did bring in projects, none of us were actually brave enough to start quilting on them. We just continued to practice on our muslin samples. Even though I had both a project and some unused practice muslins, I decided to fill in the empty spaces on the ones I had already been working on. 
Remember the hearts I did last week? I finished echoing this one:
I added one echo to this one and then filed it with free motion meandering:
This strawberry was done using tracing paper and a pattern from 
501 Quilting Motifs: Designs for Hand or Machine Quilting :

I'm quite pleased with how the end leaves turned out. The rest of it needs more work. I'm also pleased with the fact that I figured out on my own how to do this motif in continuous line stitching. I like the book this came from, but if you choose to order it, be forewarned that a lot of motifs are not suitable for continuous line machine quilting. They're more for hand quilting.
This following flower was also done with tracing paper. It's from the book Machine Quilting with Alex Anderson: 7 Exercises, Projects & Full-Size Quilting Patterns .
This one was actually quite easy to do in continuous line stitching.
Then I decided to just fill some space with some random meandering:
Really need to work on my meandering skills.
I watched a Leah Day video of a free motion spider web, but when I tried it, it definitely did not resemble the real thing:
However, I am still pleased with the results because I think it's kind of pretty, whatever it is. I finally remembered what it actually looks like: an ammonite fossil! Next time I will try this with a much larger square like Leah did.
After this, I got bored with red and switched to citrus. I also didn't want to do another motif for which I had to use tracing paper. I really hate having to pick all those tiny little bits of paper off. So I bought a couple more stencils. Here's the first:
I like it very much and am not unhappy with my stitching either.
The other stencil (seen partially in the top of the above picture) is actually meant for a 12-inch block, so I only quilted one quarter of it here:
I think I was getting tired by this time and the stitching certainly shows it. This was my last motif of the night. And I'm glad it was the last class. I'm not fond of night driving. I find it rather disorienting. On my way home, my mind kept trying to convince me that I was driving in southwestern Ontario (where I'm from, originally). I kept imagining that I could see the shapes of huge deciduous trees along the roadside, like they grow in Ontario, but definitely not here in Alberta. I was quite tired, so I'm sure fatigue was a factor. Maybe also a dirty windshield.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention something I learned in that class. If you're going to need several of one motif for your quilt, trace it onto one sheet of tracing paper. Cut out enough sheets for the number of motifs required. Stack them all onto a piece of batting with the traced one on top. Machine stitch without thread through all layers. Voila! All of the tracing papers now have the motif marked on them with the stitching. The batting just provides support to the tissue paper. On the other hand you probably only need to stitch one, because you can then use it as a stencil. The instructor demonstrated how to use a Quilt Pounce using one of these. A quilt pounce is a little "whatchamacallit" that you fill with Pounce chalk dust. You just lay the perforated tracing paper (or stencil as the case may be) where you want it on your quilt, rub the Pounce over the pattern and it's transferred to the quilt. I bought a Pounce at the class and plan on using it soon... The white dust can be ironed out, the blue has to be washed. Meanwhile, I also thought that, instead of tracing the pattern, you can just photocopy it, and then perforate the copy paper with your sewing machine.  And fortunately for me, I have a home photocopier.
And more on the subject of marking quilts - If you use one of those blue quilt marking pens, make sure you remove the markings as soon as you no longer need them. I didn't get around to removing the markings from last weeks samples until today and they were much more difficult to remove than the ones from last night's class. If you leave them long enough, do they become permanent? I don't intend to find out.
In my last post on acrylic painting, I also spoke about taking quilt photos. I dragged out the wicker peacock chair and here are the results:
Go Wild! quilt on the chair, Bearly Hockey quilt in the foreground.
Trying a better angle, but still not quite right.
Busted! Yes, I'm taking these pictures in my downstairs bathroom. The previous owners of my house had the shower removed, so there's a fair amount of empty space in there. If I was any good at photoshopping, I would get rid of the toilet. However, if I decide to paint this picture, I can just leave the toilet out. It's not my prop of choice. :-) If I ever get my basement finished, I will set up a corner for quilt photos, so I don't have to use my bathroom.

Acrylic Painting Class #5

For this class, we went out into the street, sketched a scene with pencil, then came back into the classroom to paint it. Here's my painting so far:
This is the county building. The instructor didn't actually want us to do a whole building, just a tree or a corner of a building or something. Not sure I understood what she actually wanted.
While we were working on our paintings, she handed out a line drawing of an apple and had us do this:
First we washed the whole paper in one direction with yellow, then in the other direction with green. Then we put red on the apple, then blue on the edge of the apple. Then we were supposed to wipe it. I forget what this technique was called, something in French, I think. It doesn't really matter because I doubt I will be using this technique again, unless I actually know what I'm doing when I use it. I was feeling rather annoyed to have my main painting interrupted to do this. I just used paint that was already on my pallet as I wasn't about to start mixing paints for 2 separate pictures at the same time. 
The instructor wants us to bring in all of our finished work for next class, our final class, and she is going to pick some for a mini art show. Seriously??? Who wants to see my incompetent art work? Sharing it on my blog is one thing, but putting it out there for public display in the town where I live is quite another. I'll have to think this one over... Meanwhile I need to finish my county building painting. But if I finish it at home, I will have to come up with something to do in class, as she's not going to present any new projects. And here's my idea: I bought this chair at the thrift store:

The price tag is still stuck on it - I have to figure out how to get it off. I bought it primarily as a prop for quilt photos. I wanted a vintage-looking chair for said photos. It was $15, but it was orange tag day at the thrift shop, which meant everything with an orange tag was 50% off, so I got it for $7.50. The seat is covered in plastic, which definitely has to go, and when we tried to load it, we discovered that the screws holding the seat on were loose. That's okay, since I have to take the seat off to remove that plastic. By the time I got it home and unloaded it, I found there was only one screw holding the seat on. Was there ever another screw or did it fall out somewhere between removing it from the upper shelf in the thrift store and getting it home. Oh well, it's still a pretty sturdy chair, and not bad for $7.50. Here it is with my Go Wild quilt:
Yikes! That quilt kind of swallows the chair! And it's not a really big quilt. Maybe I need to try one of my baby quilts for this. Not to mention that the setting isn't quite right. The hot air register on the right and the AV cabinet on the left don't really cut it. 
This is somewhat of an improvement, but I forgot that brand new cotton batting doesn't drape very well until it's washed a few times. So the quilt looks kind of stiff. (The Go Wild quilt has polyester fibrefil batting, so it drapes better).  And the background is boring. I need a little more "something" in this photo.
Yogi, my vintage teddy bear (yes, he's my original teddy bear), joined in, then I added a "milk can" as another prop and took away the mat. Still not quite what I wanted. I'm going to have to set up a proper studio area if I want to do good quilt photos...
But back to my idea - if I can get a quilt photo that I like, I will then paint it. 
Hmm, there's always the wicker peacock chair...

Monday, 13 October 2014

Meatless All Day: Cookbook Review

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic preview copy of this book from Net Galley. I did not receive any compensation for my review.
Please see my page, Cookbook Criteria, for what I look for in a cookbook.
I really wish that carnivores would quit trying to write vegan/vegetarian cookbooks. It seems that, since more and more people are pursuing a plant-based diet, the cookbook authors want to cash in on the trend. And the results are sometimes comical as well as disappointing. This particular cookbook starts off by instructing us how to cook eggs, which is probably an indication that you won't find much vegan fare here. After some other basic cooking information, the author then provides a list of what she refers to as power ingredients that are supposed to add a "meaty" flavour and/or texture to the dishes. Really, what's wrong with the flavour and texture of plant-based food without having to doctor it up with "power ingredients." I have been a vegetarian for over 38 years, mostly vegan for more than 20 of those. About half of the items on this list, I have never or seldom tried. Of the remaining items, I can't say that I used them for the purpose she is listing them here. Dried fruit to provide a meaty taste and texture? Sounds pretty odd to me. And she uses beets to replace meat. I don't particularly care for beets, but even if I did, I could not honestly describe them as "meaty" in taste or texture.
But that is one of the problems with a carnivore writing a vegetarian textbook. They can't wrap their minds around not having some tough gristle to chew on. Nor can most of them imagine how to get enough protein without animal products, since they view legumes and whole grains as side dishes, and so they throw as many eggs and dairy products into these recipes as possible. One quarter of the way into the book, I finally found a vegan recipe: Black Bean Burgers with Grilled Mango-Lime Mayonnaise. The following recipe uses tempeh and then it's back to lacto-ovo for numerous recipes before another vegan recipe again appears. Half-way through the book, I had only found 4 or 5 genuinely vegan recipes, plenty of eggs and dairy and few legumes. I would be interested in seeing a nutrient profile for these recipes, specifically the saturated fat and cholesterol content.
The recipe title, Thai Salad with Crispy Tofu and Peanut Dressing, sounded promising until I looked at the list of ingredients and saw that first on the list is 4 large eggs. The preamble for the recipe says to omit the eggs to make the recipe vegan, so why put them in at all? And that's not the only recipe where she pairs eggs with tofu. Even Fried Eggplant-Hummus Sandwiches contains 8 eggs (though the hummus itself is vegan)! In another recipe preamble, the author states that she uses "just 2 tablespoons of butter to keep the dish healthier." Why not use olive oil, or even water saute, to make the dish healthier? Yet again, she says that a recipe is healthful thanks to 2% milk and whole grain pasta, ignoring the butter and cheese included in the ingredients.
I don't deny that a lot of these recipes sound yummy, but even for a lacto-ovo cookbook, they are very heavy on the eggs and dairy. Not making room on my cookbook shelf for this one.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Law School Quilt

I've been wanting to do the schoolhouse block for some time. I remember a quilt from my childhood that was made of schoolhouse blocks and so it had a sentimental meaning for me. 
When I was pondering what to make for the recipient of this quilt (a lawyer, who has been working on her doctorate so that she can teach law), I decided that: Courthouse Steps + Schoolhouse = Law School. And that gave me the basis for this quilt design. And the purpose for making the schoolhouse blocks. This is not a really easy block, especially with those funky angles. One of these days I'm going to find my protractor and determine exactly what angle this is. I'm assuming 75 degrees. Fortunately, I have the Tri-Recs tools and the Lazy Angle ruler, which all use this angle, so I didn't have much trouble getting the angle correct. And I only used 4 schoolhouse blocks in this quilt.
The courthouse steps block was a little easier as it was all right angles.
I wanted a very bright and cheerful quilt, so chose a batik fat quarter bundle I purchased at last year's Creative Stitches show. I chose muslin for the background and sashing, but after assembling the quilt, found all that neutral rather boring. So I quilted with a very bright multi-coloured thread, which, unfortunately, doesn't show up very well in the picture. And I neglected to take a close-up. 
This is a cropped photo from the main quilt picture, which shows the quilting, but doesn't really show the bright colours of the thread.
The two borders were made of fabric I picked up on sale at my LQS. 
I think that purple border looks almost electric. Here's the backing I chose, again wanting to go with something bright and cheerful (butterflies):
Finally, I picked a bright green batik for the binding.

Machine Quilting Class #3

Admittedly, I will still need lots of practice with machine quilting before I actually become relatively good at it. I don't aspire to greatness, at least not in the field of machine quilting, but I'd like my stitching to be at least passably good. 
The lessons for this class were using freezer paper, stencils and tracing paper.
The large hearts and the rabbits were done by cutting the pattern out of freezer paper, ironing it onto the fabric and then quilting around it. Unfortunately, the white freezer paper did not show up very well on the muslin background, so I ended up tracing around the patterns. The poppies in the upper right and the pumpkin were both made with  stencils. You can still see the residue of my fabric marker that I have yet to remove. The "feather" and the heart circle on the left were made using tracing paper. I filled in the inside of the feather with some rather jerky-looking stippling after removing the tracing paper. But I'm learning. Each of the methods has it's advantages and disadvantages. Our instructor cautioned us about the use of fabric markers. On certain dyes, especially those in the red family, they can interact with the dye and become permanent. Tracing paper can be a bit of a pain to remove, especially if you have to double back over your stitching and don't place the second layer of stitches exactly on top of the first layer and you end up with a tiny "bubble" in between. Getting that tiny piece of tracing paper out of the bubble can be challenging. The instructor is quilting dragons on a quilt for her daughter. She says that she can quilt a dragon in 45 minutes, but it takes her nearly 3 hours (I think that's what she said) to remove all of the tracing paper. Freezer paper is great for shapes that you just want to outline, and then maybe fill with free motion or echoing. As you can see above, I was just beginning to echo the one heart. With stencils as well as with tracing, you have to be able to figure out how the stitching will go for it to be continuous. I got a little mixed up when I was doing the poppies and ended up going where I shouldn't have. But it's all a learning process. Even the instructor showed us a stencil that she'd purchased that she has never been able to figure out how to do continuous line stitching on. I believe free-motion would probably be the best method if I were any good at it. I've never been a doodler, which is what it's compared to, so I don't know if I'll ever get proficient at free-motion. I'd be happier with a pattern marked out for me somehow. That's why, so far, I've stuck with pantographs when I'm longarming a quilt. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Acrylic Painting Class #4

Finally! I have been able to produce a painting in class that I am reasonably pleased with:
It was a lesson in perspective. And no, it's not perfect, but it is just a lesson. And it actually looks like something. And I think the difference was that she allowed us to use a pencil to sketch it in beforehand. Honestly, who made the rule that you're not allowed to sketch the picture before you paint it? If it makes your painting better, why not? 
Anyway, remember last week's post, when I told about the instructor trying to teach us how to draw cubes using vantage points? Well, we all had to do that first in this class and we all ended up with envelopes. With a strange-looking cube in the middle. I decided this was one painting I was not taking home. My cube looked like Salvador Dali had painted it. I didn't want that stupid thing in my house. However, when I think about how much a Salvador Dali painting is worth, maybe I should have kept it. LOL!
Each week, I debate about whether or not I should go to class. And so far I keep deciding to go back. We'll see what happens next week. Meanwhile, I need to go get my stuff together for tomorrow night's Machine Quilting class.