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Archive for July, 2008

Yesterday I added a few more rows to my Aspen Grove Shawl and the “trunks” are beginning to take shape.  I’m finally getting into the hang of knitting this section.  I had a lot of trouble at first getting all of the yo’s in the right places.  And the sl2kwk1psso2’s were a real pain to tink properly when I had to go back. 

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Looking back over my blog and my projects for the last few months I have to ask the question, what is it with green?

In my Taos knitting group before I left we were asking that question, as many of us found ourselves working on green projects.

I am actually quite astounded to see how much I’ve been using green.  A number of the TIF projects have used green, although that’s not my fault, because Sharon picks the colors.

But I’ve made a green and pink shawl, a green scarf, green socks, more green socks, a green quilt top, a pink and green quilt top, and now this very green shawl.

On top of that I’ve put an area rug with green leaves in my living room, new green furniture in my bedroom, and I’m deciding on which green to paint the bedroom walls.

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One of my bathrooms is green, though, with no way of changing it, so that is sort of dictating some of my choices.  Green bathroom rugs were purchased to “blend” with the green tile.  I’m told all greens go together, so I’m going with that.  Plum and taupe are the other colors I’m using there. 

But green is really not one of my favorite colors, although I do find it very calming.  Yesterday I had to hold myself back from considering buying a set of green kitchen canisters I’ve been eyeing.  I don’t need green in my kitchen.  My accent color there is red.  Ooo!  My house is sounding kind of weird at this point, isn’t it?  

So what is it with green?  Is it because there’s a shortage of “green” with the price of gas and everything else going sky high?  Is it because we’re in a “Go Green” fad in North America these days, throwing out everything so we can go buy “green” to replace everything (that, incidentally was perfectly good, but not “green”) we’ve thrown out? No, I’m not doing that, I’ve just moved into a new (old) house and left most of my furnishings in my house in Taos. 

Or is it just that green’s been out for so long–remember 1950’s-60’s era avocado?–that it’s come back in again?

I don’t know, but I do have more green in my stash, so I think it’s here to stay– in my world, anyway–for a while.     

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Last night I basted and began quilting on my Star of Hope table runner.  This morning I finished quilting the center block.

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I baste my quilts quite heavily (the orange thread) so that I can quilt them on my lap without a frame.  I find that taking extra time with the basting is worth it because by quilting without a frame I can achieve smaller, more even stitches.  I do this even with large quilts.  

This block is called Star of Hope–thus the name of the quilt–designed by Marcia Aasmundstad, 1980, that I found in Ginny Beyer’s book,

The Quilter’s Album of Blocks and Borders .  It’s a nine-patch block drafted to 10 inches and turned on point for this quilt. 

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One of the primary reasons I started this blog was to keep myself motivated and accountable to practicing and growing in the areas of fiber and textile arts.

So, since one of the things I’m having the hardest time staying motivated with right now is getting my workroom put together so I can actually work on fiber and textile arts, I thought I would post some progress pictures.

I started out with an empty room that quickly filled with boxes.  The room has a nice size closet that can be used for storage.

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My large butcher block table that I’ve carried all over Virginia and to New Mexico doesn’t fit in my kitchen so it will once again serve as a work table (it goes back and forth depending upon the size of our kitchens wherever we live).  It’s a great height for a cutting table.

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As you can see, I still have several boxes to unpack, although some of these are filled with professional stuff for my church office.  I just don’t have room there for unpacking and sorting this stuff.

I looked for something to help with storage that would meet a couple of requirements:

1.  Easy to move and store if I can’t use them in the next place.

2.  Plenty of space for books, containers, etc.

3.  At least one piece that could be rolled around.

I found these black wire units that allow the shelves to be placed wherever you want them.  They can be taken apart for moving, and they will store without taking up too much space.  They’re not perfect, but they pretty much meet the criteria.  And they weren’t very expensive–a real plus.

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I have this tall one for books, sewing tools and current projects.

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Two of these shorter units are in the closet, and in the middle is a rolling cart that I think I’ll be using for my dyeing supplies. 

I’m hoping once I get all the loose stuff organized that all I’ll need to add is a good sewing table or cabinet.  I’m looking at possibilities and haven’t yet decided between one that is designed for quilting or one that is for general purpose sewing.  It’s going to be a fairly major purchase so I want to make sure I choose the right thing.

I’m now at the stage where I have to figure how to organize and where to put all the loose miscellaneous stuff so I’ll know where to find it when I need it.  That’s always the hardest part and what I tend to put off the longest.  I’m trying to work 30-60 minutes at a time on it, at least once a day.  So you would think I would be finished soon.  I hope so!   

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I thought I was making good progress on my Aspen Grove Shawl yesterday, when once again I made a mistake and dropped a couple of stitches that have required me to tink back most of what I put in yesterday.  I gave up on it last night and will get back to it this afternoon.  I think I have about one and a half more rows to tink, which will be pretty much back where I started yesterday. 

However, the pattern in the second section is now beginning to be visible.

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For anyone who might be following my cycling progress, I actually have been getting some in since our move to Emporia.  I’m not sure whether I have mentioned my 18-mile ride a few Saturdays ago with a group from my church.  That stands as my longest ride so far.  Boy, was I tired afterwards.  I’ll take altitude over humidity any day for cycling.

Since then I’ve been trying to get out at least twice a week for a 10-miler.  This morning I cut my time from over 50 minutes to 47 minutes, averaging about 13 mph, with max speed over 20 mph.  It may not sound like much to real cyclists, but it’s a lot of progress for me.

We are meeting more and more people in town and from my congregation who cycle, so I think John’s hopes to put together a cycling group for families, focusing on children and teens, may get a lot of help. 

John has been gathering the pieces for building a cross bike for me.  That’s a bike that can be easily ridden on regular roads, but also on dirt and gravel that is not too rough.  It’s a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike, thus “cross” bike.  We left our real mountain bikes in New Mexico, so I need something here that will allow me to ride on some of the great park and forest paths that there are in Virginia. 

Plus, of course, John has been itching to build another bike.

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So far he has the frame, which is MUCH lighter than my current road bike, the wheels, which will have wider tires put on them than in the picture, and the handlebar.  He’s become a real fan of e-bay where he has purchased these pieces for a fraction of the retail prices and he bought a good share of the parts for the super lightweight, very cool road bike that he recently built for himself.

I pretend to be interested in all these parts and pieces in the same way he pretends to be interested in my quilt pieces, knitting yarns and dyestuffs. 

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Summer Flowers

A member of my church made two beautiful bouquets of summer flowers from her garden for our worship service today and she gave one of them to me.

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They are so beautiful.  I got to enjoy them all during worship and am continuing to enjoy them now at home.

To get myself motivated to do some hand quilting I’m posting a picture of a table runner I designed and taught to some friends in Virginia Beach a little over a year ago.  It’s all hand pieced and will be hand quilted.

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It’s one of those UFO’s I forgot I had.  It will make a nice small piece to work on that won’t be oppressive in the end of July to August heat. 

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I have completed the first section of my Aspen Grove Shawl — 82 rows — and am 6 rows into the second section — 55 rows.

You can now begin to see the structure of the shawl as it “fans out” in four wedges. 

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The pattern will, of course, be more distinct once it’s stretched and blocked.  Part of the fun of lace is the mystery while you’re knitting it of how it will look when finished. 

The first section is the “canopy” of the aspen grove, composed of all leaf motifs.  The next section is the “trunks” section, but you won’t be able to tell that until I get a little further into it.

This section should go much quicker because every other row is simply purled all the way across.  In the first section each row was composed of pattern stitches that had to be carefully watched and counted.

Off to Richmond today.  Too bad I’m going with a group of people, otherwise I’d make a quick stop into a yarn or quilt shop–or maybe both.

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I found the perfect print for the backing for my Shoo-Fly-Away quilt that I plan to finish for the friends of the Family Violence Prevention Program.

I wanted to put a print on the back of this quilt that would be fun, but not compete with the Liberty of London prints on the front.  I found one I liked a lot in Taos, but failed to purchase it before I moved, and I was not expecting to find anything close to it here.

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However, I found something I like even better.  The background is very close to the green on the top and there are whimsical little leaves scattered all over it, which nicely complements the floral prints on the front.

Now to get it basted and quilted.  This will be my first attempt at machine quilting anything larger than a potholder.  I think I have enough of my green background fabric for the binding.

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I also found a fabric for my first stack-n-whack quilt for the quilt guild workshop in August.  This one caught my eye as soon as I walked in the store.

I found at least two other fabrics I thought would work nicely, but I’m trying to follow the example of my friend Vicki and refrain from adding too much to my stash this year.  So I just bought one.  I still have the beautiful African print that I showed a couple days ago that can be tried also.  So that’s surely enough for the time being.

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While I was at it I treated myself to a new rotary cutter.  Mine is from the days of the dinosaurs when rotary cutters first came out.  It still works great, but now I have one for fabric and one for other things like paper, stiffener, etc. without having to keep switching blades back and forth.

I have to be away at an all-day ministry workshop tomorrow, so I fear I won’t get much creative stuff done this weekend, but hopefully I can get to more of my workroom tonight.  I found a couple of UFO’s I had forgotten about yesterday.

How could I forget about UFO’s when I just packed and moved?  I don’t know, but I did.  I’m going to get to work on them (they’re small hand piecing and quilting projects) so I have something to show at the next quilt guild meeting. 

That’s why I love doing fiber and textile work with groups–it keeps me motivated!

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