Dec 26, 2015

fun with half-square triangles

You don't always have to have a crystal-clear plan when plotting a project using half-square triangles (HSTs). If you know the size you want to end up with, and the number of squares you'll need, you can leave the layout and see what suits your fancy later. On second thought .... seems a bit reckless. Maybe only I do that.

Fun, right?


Dec 23, 2015

not quite something

It's finished. It's small. I don't know what it is. So it's not quite something. It's bigger than a placemat, though. Probably as big as two. This is what happens when you 'do something' with your leftover fabric - you get what you can out of it and nothing more.

I included the dog for scale.

And here's the back - a lovely lavender Jinny Beyer small-scale print that I got from my Nan.

This not-quite-something goes with two pillowcases and is destined for a teenager's very stylish bedroom. I figured it would be a small bed-topper, like a decoration. Just there on top. My family thought it was too small. I think she has a queen-size bed. So since then, I've come up with:

  • A cover for the piano seat, or part of it
  • A decoration for the window seat, maybe to sit on
  • A quilt to sit under stuff on the desk (it would overhang)
  • A quilt to sit on the chest of drawers

Really, the recipient can do whatever she likes with it, but I want to provide some options so she doesn't go, "Hm. Pretty. What am I supposed to do with this?"

(I haven't done anything to help this thing be a wall-hanging. I don't think she'd be into that.)

Yeah, so, there's that.


Dec 21, 2015

lots going on this month

The dog is still cute. She likes to cuddle, but she also likes to spaz out and leap into the air. Such a complex creature.

My dad makes 'cabs' from rocks that he finds on his travels, and which he purchases from quality sellers. He does his own wire-wrapping. This one is a tiger-eye stone, wrapped in a gold-coloured square wire. It doesn't look very gold in the photo. It's not a super-yellow gold in real life. My dad rocks. Pun intended.

Someone in my modern quilt guild made this table topper for me for our Christmas swap. It's kind of amazing, right?

I bought CynthiaFrenette's pillow form (okay, I bought three) on  and sewed them up. Auntie TwoBrokenLegs likes hers, which says Hello Lovely and has an old typewriter image on it. Yes, she actually broke both of her legs recently - while standing still on wet leaves and while wearing shoes with no tread. Fibulas be damned! Daughter loves her pillow, which has a chicken on it and it says Fly Your Freak Flag. Very clever cushions.

I finished sewing the binding on all 32 coasters. It was an adventure in Netflix. Sewing black fabric with black thread in the evening is something of a guessing game. I think I did a pretty good job on them, but will anyone ever really know?

The Rubik's kid has a sister. I felt bad, so I offered her some pillowcases. Her room is done in mint green, white and a bit of gray. So there are two pillowcases in opposite colour arrangements. I had leftover fabric, so of course I cut a bunch of squares to do half-square triangles four at a time on the bias. Here's a link to something that can explain the pros and cons of these half-square triangle squares.

Then I went to visit Auntie TwoBrokenLegs and I noticed that she needed a table runner. I offered to make her one, and then I offered to make it double-sided. I'm on a half-square triangle kick, so I started something that would become an ironing-and-squaring-up challenge .... I now have about 300 squares.

They started out as 5.5 inch squares of fabric. I put two of them right sides together and sewed around the outside. Then I cut them twice on the diagonal to get four bias squares that are made of two triangles.

See? They'll be something like 3.5-inch squares, but I have a feeling that I may need to square them up to 3.25 or even 3 inches. We'll see.

So the ones on the pillowcases below are for the bed topper and then the big stack of triangles is one side of the table runner, and the squares that are open are for the other side of the table runner. 300 squares. That's a lot of ironing. I haven't started the squaring-up yet, but I'll get on that this afternoon.

Thank goodness for Christmas holidays! I wish you all a very happy holiday and the very, very best in 2016. It's a leap year, so take a leap into something new and see where it takes you.


Dec 15, 2015


The Rubik's quilt was handed over to the Mama on Sunday and she loves it. I'm SO glad.

I recently saw something that said that I shouldn't point out all the things wrong with it, so I didn't. She's looking at the overall thing and thinks it's great, so I won't mention this spot or that spot.

I learned a lot about my machine. It seems to be fancy. It doesn't want discount thread or cheap thread - it wants the good stuff. I even have a middle-of-the-road thread in what I believe is a 50 weight and it doesn't work very well. I get needle-thread loops on the underside of my piecing seams, and if I try to quilt with that, I get breakage and skips and all kinds of shenanigans.

So Aurifil it is. And 50 wt. And then it sews beautifully. I'm sure it would be fine with any of the fancier threads (= expensive) like that, but Aurifil is the one that I can most readily find.

Those coasters are coming along. Hand-sewing the binding on 32 coasters takes a while, as you may imagine. I am a little picky about things, so it probably takes me longer than the average person BUT I notice that I'm getting faster at it. I have 8 pins in my coaster and as I sew, I take them out. One by one, they go into the next coaster. It's quite a system, and I never have pins lying around. I think I've finished about 13 of them now. It'll be fine.

We got a new dog. She's a min-pin-chi mix (miniature pinscher (brown) and chihuahua) and her name is Toffee. She's over a year old, but we aren't sure exactly how old she is. She came up from California on the rescue bus. She REALLY loves us. It's nice having a dog in the house again, and a small dog for the first time. She's allowed on the couch and on our daughter's bed, and when I'm stitching (or knitting) on the couch, she pretends she's a cat and lies on top of my work. Turd. We've worked out a system, though. The system involves the thread not touching her because it makes her twitch. Yes, that slows me down. She loves to cuddle, though, and I like her cuddling.

Dec 6, 2015

be square

I finished a project today. It's for a wee lad who loves Rubik's cubes and is wicked-good at them. He has a bunch of different ones, but this quilt was designed (by me) to look like the old three-by-three. The cube of my youth. It's a hexagon now, about 60" side-to-side on the flats. And it actually is pretty square, even though this picture taken atop a kitchen chair makes it seem a little flared on the sides.

Cool, eh? It's got three ways to look at it because those three ways all show the two-sides-plus-top perspective. I hope he loves it, but keep it a secret, would you? I know when he gets it on the 25th, he's going to mentally run the algorithms and solve it in about 30 seconds (less than that for a real 3x3 in his hands).

And, in other news, I saw some super-simple, non-pieced coasters the other day (I can't remember where!) and decided I'd like to make a pile of them. Thirty-two, actually. They've all got the same-but-different squared spiral quilting on them. I'm binding them with the method for tiny things that I saw on

It'll take a while to stitch down all the bindings, but they'll be convenient little giveaways this year. And I like that the method on the Crazy Mom blog takes care of the ends before you start attaching that single-fold binding. Woot!

In the knittiverse, I've finished cute little things for my 5-month-old nephew (secret) and I'm working away on the Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood. I'm going to design a lace wrap pattern too, but I'm waiting for a bit more inspiration.

Happy December!


Nov 11, 2015

and now I can get back to my regular life

When you hear the words, "Mum, will you knit me something?" come from a 15-year-old, it's remarkable how fast you snap into action. She has scorned knitted garments for years. We hopped onto and found a crochet pattern for a lovely poncho with a cowl neck. We raced out to buy yarn, choosing 7 balls of grey and one of red.

I had to learn how to hdc (half double crochet). Easy peasy when you know three other crochet stitches already. So around and around and around and around I went, with increases placed regularly. Two and a half weeks later, it's done.

She doesn't know yet because she's out, but she'll see it this evening. And then she can stop nagging at me to work on it and get it done already. Time to focus on sewing!!


Nov 7, 2015

did I really get that done?

I had a quilting workshop today. It was on the topic of 'quilt as you go'. It's a matter of making small things, fully quilted, and then putting them together to make bigger things.

I knew I wanted to make a Christmas table runner. I cut pieces for the back and the batting, and took a lot of fabric for the fronts because I didn't know what we'd be learning. Would my 5" charm pack work? Would I need strips the width of fabric?

When I saw the pattern, I knew I wanted to use my charm pack. It's called Winterberry and I love it. When I saw the dimensions in the pattern, I knew that the 5" squares weren't quite big enough. So I decided to chop them in half, wonky-like. Then I started cutting others into 3, wonky-like, for smaller pieces. I cut them two at a time so they'd always have a buddy to mirror, so they'd almost always come out squarish when two pieces were sewn together (the middle ones on the 3-cuts didn't behave as nicely, but I had wiggle room).

Then I started chain piecing. Then I ironed. Then I pieced the pieces together. Then I ironed. Then I did it again, and even a fourth time, because I needed 8 things 4 x 5.5 and 8 things 4 x 10.5. I have *NOTHING* left from that charm pack but wee little trimmings. I used the whole thing and panicked that I wouldn't have enough. I squeaked through. PHEW!

I have four of these. I'm going to quilt them some more, and then I'll attach them to each other. They're all the same pattern, but will be different because of the randomness of the cuts.

Random. That's the word of the day!

It's pouring out. I'm going to make some soup and then turn on the radio and get sewing. So awesome.


Oct 27, 2015

Pattern Jam wants to give me free fabric

I don't want to stand in the way of, so if you:
  • are interested in using a computer to design quilts really quickly 
  • envision yourself one day sharing your patterns with friends 
  • want to sell quilt patterns to strangers
... then please go have a look! 

As a bonus, if 5 people follow that link and sign up on the site, I get the credit, and Pattern Jam will send me fabric. Awesome

Three of you lovely people have already signed up, so I only need two more. How easy could that be? We'll see......

Thank you in advance if you choose to sign up on their website. It's free and you can totally cancel it later if you don't like it.


Oct 25, 2015

knitting controlled by sewing

I finished my new knitting-notion bag and it's now chock-full of stuff.

Remember this mess?

Yup, I'm happy. That poor felted messenger bag (which I knitted and then felted a few years ago) really wasn't made for so much stuff.

I'm going to get a few opinions and maybe a tester or two, and then I may just publish the pattern. It really is neat-o.

PS - I'm sorry if you can't see the second picture. It's on server #2 and I don't have the source to re-upload it. Darned server 2! You're only affected if you're looking at this from behind a well-secured firewall, though, so get back to work!


Oct 13, 2015

the quilt I've been sharing my time with

This is the beast.

So named because it covers a queen-sized bed with overhang. The squares are all 12" finished and it's 7x8 squares. 

Here, below, is Carol's favourite way to take quilt photos - with 'church' in the frame. Carol took all the photos on this post. She's pretty awesome, especially since she did all the editing in record time. I cropped the photos a little bit when I used SnagIt to grab them from a Flickr page, so hopefully you'll blame me (and SnagIt) if the quality isn't as good as you'd expect from Carol.

See all the neat-o fabrics? Ninjas, zombies, jeeps, Rocky & Bullwinkle, sharks, flames, etc? Hubby bought pretty well all of them. I get him to go into fabric shops with me, and if he finds something manly that makes him smile, I encourage him to go to the cutting counter and ask for .2 or .3 in Canada and 1/4 in the US. After a while, he started going into fabric shops on his own when he was travelling. In this quilt, we have fabric from our home area, plus Washington state, Oregon and Utah. And the backing fabric is also one he picked out in Oregon, and that's the only American purchase I think I was present for. The binding he chose from my Nanna-fed stash and I decided on all the border colours.

It was really random - I started with black, white and the gray patterns for borders, and then incorporated solid gray when I got bored. After a while, I thought I should have orange. I only had a fat quarter, so that ran out pretty quickly. I had added yellow by that point, and red followed shortly. I really got lucky with the way it all worked out because I had little pops of colour that didn't get in the way of each other, and just the right amount of everything.

Another (cropped) photo by Carol:

At the quilting bee, we had a Block Lotto. That means you make a block and bring it to the meeting. You get one ticket for every block you bring. Then there's a draw and the winner gets all the blocks. My Mum ended up winning all 15 from her 2-block entry and she's going to put it together with the teenaged granddaughter. That's pretty cool.

Off to guild #2 tonight, and I'll show the beast again ... just 'cause. There's no overlap, so it's not like I'm annoying anyone with a repeater.

(I had a look at my html view before I posted this and I caught one photo on the bp2 server. I uploaded the picture again and it got onto a different server, so I was able to fix the broken link that you may have experienced before you experienced it.)


Oct 1, 2015

getting ready for the bee

You've seen bits and pieces of the man-quilt and now it's almost done. I will take it to my quilt guilds (yes, I joined two) over the next couple weeks so I won't post a spoiler here. That would ruin the surprise for my MIL. Actually, I don't know if she knows that I have a blog. But just in case.

So here's me hand-stitching the binding. Hubby picked the backing fabric and the very red binding fabric. Also, all the fussy-cut pieces on the front and anything with a pattern - he picked those too. I picked all the solids.

The binding is Jinny Beyer fabric and I got it from my Nan's stash. My Nan rocks.

We shuffled some things around and now I have a sewing nook. A whole desk on wheels that is dedicated to sewing, and a cabinet just for fabric and growlers and paper towels and light bulbs.

The cupboard doors close to keep the dust out. (I don't have much of a stash, but it certainly needs some organization. I think my best bet will be to sew more things.) I've started wrapping my 1+ yard pieces on a bit of cardboard (from the IKEA packaging) and it, obviously, made my stash take up even more room. That was dumb but I can see it all better. There's a positive and a negative for you.

I'm less than halfway finished the quilted bag for my knitting notions. I got stalled at the sew-in by a failure to take enough fabric, and by not taking stock of my zippers ... and being short two zippers. I was still sewing all day, so it wasn't the end of the world. I'll get on that once I finish this hand-sewing.

That's probably it for now.


Sep 18, 2015

basic pattern design

I completed my first pattern design on this morning. Really basic. I am very fond of pinwheels, and think that this design would come together really quickly, and be great for baby quilts or charity quilts, with just enough interest that you have fun doing it.

The gray fabric has zombies on it and I like the contrast with the white. I kept a pattern and a solid for the pinwheels as well, and think there's good contrast there too.

Honestly, this took about 3 minutes to do. It's not tricky and it's not time-consuming. Maybe this design isn't your cup of tea, but maybe it makes you want to do better. You probably can.

If you follow this link, you can sign up too, and maybe I'll get some free fabric one day:


Sep 16, 2015

about those photos


I don't think there's a way for me to stop my pictures from going to server 2. I will try deleting and re-adding when I notice that that's where they are, but I don't expect that to be successful.

This seems like the rambling of a crazy-person now. If you don't have a firewall that protects you from the dangers of, you have no idea what I'm going on about.

We'll get back to the quilting and/or knitting very soon. Peace out.


NOPE! I have discovered more. Apparently the server that some of my photos (that I took with my own camera) are being hosted on is the culprit. The ones on the 1, 3 and 4 servers are just fine and they display properly.

I'll do more digging and see if I can find a way to stop the pictures from going to number 2. We all know what number 2 is, right?

I got annoyed today. I went to look at my last post on my computer and found that the picture wouldn't load. I checked on my phone to see if it was knocked out there as well. It wasn't. I then tried 20,000 things on my computer with the html and couldn't get the picture to display.

Then I got smart. I put the url for the photo into the browser's address bar (Chrome, so you figure it would get along with Google, right?) and tried to load just the photo. The network, the browser, or maybe the computer beasties wouldn't allow it. I think that's the problem. It's not that Blogger is killing my photos randomly. It's some sort of restriction.

The problem isn't solved, but it's not one that I am able to solve. I can continue to look at pesky blogs that cause that issue with my phone, though. Mine isn't the only one - but so far I'm just seeing this behaviour on Blogger blogs ... which are also friendly with Picasa albums. I don't know which is the culprit, but I've searched every way from Sunday and haven't been able to find a solution that works for me. Maybe it's just me. If I'm spending all this time on something that's my issue alone, and doesn't impact my three readers at all, that's just ... grrr.

ANYWAY, I have spent several days working on the design for the knitting holder. Somehow it turned into a purse. I'm going to have to split this current design work into two different projects - one that is a purse and one that is a knitting notion holder. That shouldn't be too hard.

I'm going to rework the pattern notes tonight and hopefully then I'll be able to cut out the pieces soon. I'm really hoping to be able to sew up the sample on Saturday. Then I can show you!


Sep 13, 2015

borne of need

I hope this looks as crazy and aggravating as I feel it is.

Interchangeable needles, cables, stitch markers, scissors, sewing needles, needle gauges, bits and bobs and goodness-knows-what-else. Sigh. The red felted bag that it sits in used to have structure but it has been asked to do too much. It's wider than it ever was and clearly unhappy.

I've googled quilted knitting notion bags but nothing fits the bill. I need something. This necessity is the mother of design in my life. I generally don't design any old thing ... I decide that I want something, I hunt for it, and then when I don't find it, I'm determined to solve it myself so I wind up designing. That's how I developed the quilted rummoli board, the knitted one-skein baby blanket, the brioche cowl, and it will be how I develop the most perfect bag to hold knitting stuff. Not the project - the stuff.

Drawing: commence NOW. Perfect evening for it.


Sep 3, 2015

absofreakinglutely delighted

Our top secret Round Robin has come to an end.

To recap, this was my friend Amber's idea. She and I used to work together, but now she lives in the Ottawa area. She's really from Texas, though, and that's where her Mom is, who is also a participant. And to square it up, my Mum was a willing participant too. Two daughters and two mothers.

We started out with a 20" square design of whatever we wanted. I did a fun little wonky thing with purple in the middle and red and blue on either side, with white as well.

Then the idea was that we'd put it in the mail for the other three participants to add 10" borders all around, or the equivalent, growing it by 20" each way, every turn. Amber had it next and added a yellow border. That let her make the blue transition to green and the red to orange.

After Amber, my Mum got it and she added a sort of a bargello-fied round of super-bright colourful wonderfulness.

Then Amber's Mom got it and she put on the heavy-white final border with some really great pieced squares, some of them doubles, and some wildly fun paper airplanes (made of fabric) with their flight paths hand-embroidered. It's a Whimsical Wonky quilt top and I'm in love with it.

Now we all have an 80x80" quilt top ready to sandwich, quilt, embroider, embellish, whatever, and bind. It kind of makes it look easy when this part is already done, right? We had each step of this process for about two months. That gave us tons of thinking time and lots of sewing time. We could try different things, try different colours, and make a few mistakes that needed fixing.

When I first got Amber's Mom's (okay, her name is Donna) starter piece, I just about fainted. I've been quilting since fall of 2014, right? She did a beautiful art piece that was based on a photograph and had thread painting, clever folding and purposeful lumpiness, hand embroidery, and it looked done.

I put on the checkerboard border that pulled the colour from the lighthouse and the bird, and then did some colour echoing. I found a really neat sand-coloured fabric with footprints in it at a little shop in Oliver, BC. Amber then framed it all and added the compasses. My Mum added the also echo-y frame work in each corner. We all tried not to overshadow Donna's original piece. In the end, it looked like this:

Amber's idea started with a sign she saw in a pub, which she replicated with fabric.

The perspective is amazing, isn't it? My Mum added some flying geese and a tree, and Amber's Mom added another tree (tons of hand embroidering), a bear, a tent and a fire. She also did the zigzag border and the maple leaves. My Mum was a little short on her addition, so Donna, being a Mom, went the extra mile. I figured the canoe wouldn't go anywhere without paddles, so I added those on last.

And my darling Mum. She started off with an 11-sided circle in a square and Donna grew that into a fun thing with 60-degree triangles and an almost-hexagon.

I carried on with the 60-degree theme on two sides, and Amber finished it off. This one is a lot of fun. The picture below is actually a side view - the original 11-sided beastie is going to be in the bottom-right area.

That's all of them. Kind of amazing, right? I would totally do something like this again. It was frightening, overwhelming and really intimidating, but every time I settled on my idea for a piece, I let the stress go and got to work with the cutting and sewing. And I got to buy a new ruler and some fabric along the way, so it wasn't all scary.

There were no spoilers (I've been assured of this), which made today really great. We all opened our boxes at the same time and got a first look at the beautiful finished top. Then we dug into the journal and read all the juicy details about every step along the way. It was Amber's idea to journal things as we went, and that'll be a lovely thing to hang onto for years to come.


Aug 27, 2015

next step: quilting

1. Having a retreat at your Mum's house is awesome. Working with Mum for two days straight, getting to ask all the questions, and having time for shopping, jokes and meals = priceless.

2. Even though you think you have to sew non-stop, there IS still time to go to a fabric shop or two. We proved it by going to two.

3. Two parents do a great job holding up the top-secret quilt top that was finished after a long first day. I really like it! We are likely to have the grand reveal next Thursday.

4. The man-quilt (56 squares) made it through layout, assembly and sandwiching, even with a trip to the store to pick up dog food for the Nan and a bit of show-and-tell upon delivery. (It's the "man-quilt" because hubby accompanied me into fabric shops and even ventured into a few on his own while travelling ... and always went to ask for the .2, .3 or 1/4 yard cutting himself. Awwww!)

5. As stated above, all that's left to do is quilt and bind this puppy. Piece o' cake, right? Did I mention those 56 squares are 12 inches square each? That's my biggest quilt EVER. It's scary. I'm thinking vertical lines randomly spaced in red. We shall see - I won't be starting til next week. I don't have the red thread yet.


Aug 23, 2015

sewing called weaving that is actually knitting

It's weaving in ends, of course! And I have two socks' worth of them planned for this evening. I also have a limoncello and cranberry on the strong side that's going to help me through.

For you IKEA lovers, yes, that's a Sissu  cup.

Sometimes, in knitting, sewing is necessary. It pains us, but we do it. It's really hard when you have a fresh skein of beautifully-dyed-in-Bellingham yarn (Cedar House Yarns) staring at you, though. Like, really hard.

I'm jetting off to a small retreat at my Ma & Pa's house in the morning. And by jetting I mean driving the speed limit or slower. I should have more to show after that ... but not the top secret thing! I have to finish that this week and then get it in the mail to its owner and then, when all four of us have our starters back, we will open the packages and go mental. Round Robin joy.



Aug 18, 2015

and then there were 56

Remember Square 1? I had cut just over half the 450ish pieces then, and decided that that was enough cutting for a while, so I started sewing. I sewed them all up, and then I cut the rest. Since the zombies I faced in Cut Round 2 were really, really fussy cut and not at all square, I stepped away from the rotary cutter and did some serious math. It was a Sunday morning and it was mostly successful to do it that way, rather than the original way I did it, which was to perform every calculation mentally just before I cut. That produced three errors. Writing it down only produced one error. Neither was the end of the world, but method 2 felt a lot less stressful.

My third-to-last square was a sight to behold! I call it Tiger Farting on Dragon's Head.

I changed sewing machines partway through and it took me a while to learn the quarter-inch sweet spot on the new machine. I have some squares that are really not square. I was aiming for 12.5" squares, but I may yet trim them all down to 12". That will shave several inches off the final size of the quilt, but I have the option of throwing in another row and column, either by piecing more squares, or by introducing borderless blocks of solids.

At this point, I'm leaning toward blocks of solid. I would do them all in black or white and I think they'd really tie things together. And is it ever going to need some tying together! I only used so many border colours, but there's a wide variety of combinations and widths. We'll see how this lays out. Very exciting!

Now to prepare to cut the very well planned-and-thought-out addition to Amber's starter. I'll be done ahead of schedule. No sweat.