Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Princess and the Little Quilt - Episode 2

For those of you following the Princess stories:
The Little Quilt had a terrible accident this week.  The Princess left her Putty on her desk.  It was not in the cup it came in, but spread out in a lovely green pool on a piece of paper.  She lost track of what she was doing, and laid the little quilt down.  She didn't realize it was on the putty until she went to find it later, when she missed it.
Oh no!  Now the little quilt had several large areas that were covered with green putty.
Her mother tried putting the little quilt in the freezer, to see if she could pick the putty out.  Then she rubbed it with ice, like you do with gum if it gets stuck somewhere, like your hair.
It didn't freeze at all.  The mother said "ask your grandmother if she has any ideas".
The grandmother knew as soon as she saw the Princess' face that the accident was terrible.  The quilt had three large green globs, and it smelled funny.
"I can pick some of it off, but we need help" she said.  Just then the grandpa came in.  "I think maybe Goo-Gone might help" he said.
Sure enough, it worked!  But now the little quilt smelled even funnier.  Everyone was sad.
"I can fix that too!" said the grandpa.  "I have some magic beads that make everything smell nice after a washing."
When the little quilt was done in the washing machine, the grandpa put it in the dryer with his magic beads.  When it was dry, the green stains were gone and the funny smell was too! 
The little quilt was clean and fresh again.  Everyone was happy.

Probably not the end of the story....

On the Needles, Still...

The green Lady's Sweater is still on the needles but it IS nearing completion.

Well, it's more than halfway done, so does that count?  I have to finish the bottom band, then knit two sleeves from the stitches I laid off onto scrap yarn.  I'm praying for luck, and a better attention span...

I'm liking the color, the yarn is Vanna's Choice Baby, color Sweet Pea.  The one booboo on the back has very nearly stopped annoying me.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.  Who knows whether at some point I'll wear it, someone will notice, and I'll frog stitch the 27 rows, but that's a story for another day.  Really, this truly is an easy pattern if you just pay attention to what you're doing (she said to herself more than once!)

I want to make the band at the bottom as wide as the front band, so that means about four or maybe five more rows need to be added before I can bind off.

It's been so hot in Wisconsin that the air conditioner is on all the time, so having this bundle in my lap has warded of the chills during my evening TV time.  I knit through an episode of Major Crimes on Monday and an episode of Rizzoli and Isles on Tuesday. 

Today is only supposed to be in the 70s, so maybe there won't be any knitting tonight.  That's OK, who wears a sweater when it's in the 70s anyway?  It's OK if I skip a night, although I so want to finish because I want to start the NEXT project.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Knit on...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How Old Are You??

Any time anyone asks my age (if they're brave enough, or rude enough) I usually respond "I'm 39!"

The last time I did that my son said "ha-ha, Mom, I'm 43..."

Smart aleck.

So when my aunts and cousins went to a retreat and the pattern was called "39 and Counting", I had to buy it.

The pattern is really cute, the bands of bright colors make the blocks look like they've been cut apart, maybe like a cut apart four patch. 
My problem with this pattern is the cutting directions.  I cut pretty accurately -- if I do say so myself, and with the quarter inch foot on my machine I piece pretty accurately too.
This pattern was written for people who might find that challenging, so it's overcut and you trim everything down at each step.  Not that there's anything wrong with that!  Eleanor Burns has been doing it for years!  I know people for whom this is the only way you end up with the right sized finished block.  Heck, I've done that myself.
The directions say to cut strips, then sub-cut into squares, rectangles and larger rectangles.  Pair them up and sew the pairs.  

Step one, sew four patches. 

Step 2, trim them down to 3.5 inches.
 Urgh... why not just cut the pieces 2 inches wide to begin with?

I will admit that you get a nice, crisp edge by sewing first and cutting later, but it seems like so much work, cutting and sewing and re-cutting!

Next step is to take the bigger rectangles and sew them into pairs.

Then you take your feature color and cut strips.  How big?  Don't know... doesn't say, but when you've got all four sides sewn it should be trimmed to five inches.

Math.  There should be math!!  Here's the math:  5 inches minus 3 inches (finished size of four patch) is 2 inches.  Add a half inch for seam allowance (1/4 on each piece).  That's 2.5 inches.  Half of that is 1.25 inches. 

Answer:  Cut the colored strips 1.25 inches wide.

To test this I took a strip from my 2.5 inch bin, cut it in half (very accurately!) and applied it. 

Yep, measures 5 inches.
Since I had a big pile of red strips, and I love red, I used just one color instead of doing the rainbow effect.  Originally I had intended to do green, but I was in the moment!  (And there were more red strips than green ones anyway...)

A word about stripes...If you think about it when you do your four patch, you might be able to get the stripes to all line up the same way.  My main concern was getting the dark in the right corner, so that didn't occur to me until I sewed this block.  But I don't really care that much since they're all sort of wonky that way!

After applying the shorter of the borders, you -- wait for it!  TRIM AGAIN!  Add the longer pieces, and square the whole block up to 8 inches.  You have now trimmed 1/4 inch off EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF THIS BLOCK.

I filled my small trash can with shavings.  If I were a paper maker I'd have had an awesome start on some black and white stationery.

(No! No!  I AM NOT starting up on another craft!)
I have to add a last red border to two sides of all of the blocks, and then a red border to whatever side gets left out that way.  I used the 'sash as you go' method, even though I'm not doing cornerstones.  I like it because you get a more accurate and flatter sashing sometimes, and the seams get hidden in the quilting.

I edited my own copy of the pattern to adjust for the cutting of right sized strips.  The pattern says to start with 2 1/4 inch strips, which I had to cut because I don't have those in my bins... but I could have used 2 inch strips (which I DO have precut) and saved myself a blade.  However if you think your seams are going to end up bigger than 1/4 inch, and you want to fudge something, you can just fudge the bright colors and save yourself some messing around.  Not to mention all those shreds left over!

This is going to be a lovely quilt when it's done.

Sew on...