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From One Rabbit Hole to Another

It’s been a bookish time.

The books in front are books I own. They get neglected because they don’t have due dates. You can’t quite see the two stacks of library books behind them. Some due dates don’t matter because the library automatically renews them ten times; others do when other patrons put a hold on the books. Not a bad set up.

The rabbit hole started with an interview that led to a book about four women spies during the civil war (Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy), which led to a book about women who dressed as men to fight in the civil war (They Fought Like Demons), which led to a memoir of one of them, Francis Thompson. Then an interview with Elizabeth Becker, author of You Don’t Belong Here (about three women who broke the barrier for women war reporting during the Vietnam war) fit nicely into the women-in-war theme and started a new rabbit hole.

Each of the three women Becker had written about had a book to her credit, and my library has all but one. (Inter-library loan is still not functioning; hasn’t been restarted since other Covid cancellations. Sigh.) Plus Becker has a brief section in her book about her own time reporting in Cambodia, and she has written another book, When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution. So far I’ve read (and viewed) two. First, photographer Catherine Leroy’s collection of Vietnam war photos wherein she selected from many photographers, not just her own, and submitted the photos to writers for comment. Some comments reflected on the photo itself, others on the writers’ experiences. And because I never did understand the Cambodia/Vietnam connection, I chose Becker’s book next. As she unpacks the gruesome complexity, I see why I didn’t understand it in the day.

Then there are the unrelated rabbit holes. My young grandson was into the Percy Jackson variations on Greek and Roman mythology, so I thought I’d read a couple so as to be more conversant with him. I got hooked enough to read 8. Then Susan of DesertSky blog introduced me to Kate O’Hearn’s Pegasus series, also related to the Olympians. They are quite a different tone and seem more independent of the myths which mostly form a backdrop. And in between various mysteries that I’d been waiting for forever (sometimes being #350 on the wait list) would become available at random times. Ya gotta have some light reading!

I love being retired. My time is mostly my own. One of my friends passed on her mother’s advice: don’t make too many commitments too fast. I didn’t.

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Fourth–and last–Border

The official name of this project is “Make it up as you go.” I mention that because I may have to remember it later.:-)

I left off after the third border (here), got two sides of the fourth finished last month,

and got my act together to finish the last two today. I find it interesting that I considered the third border fiddly but not this one with all its little pieces. All I can figure is it’s the difference between working with triangles and squares. I may have liked it better before the forth border. But I have felt that way after other borders were half finished, so it may be a pattern. Here is the full fourth.

I do like it a little better finished, but I’m not thrilled. My original thought had been 1) I wanted a small amount of red, not the big pieces of borders 2 and 3 and 2) the zigzag pattern would relate to the big while the small squares would relate to the center. Well sort of. The zigzag doesn’t look as big in the real as it did ] in my head. I wonder if that is partly because of the widely varied shades of the red scraps? They look bigger when I squint at it. This was one of the two suggested borders in the guild project. In fact I had pictured something like it but not done the math yet, so it was nice to have the math done for me.

The reds are from scraps. As I recall,when I originally made the center HSTs I realized that when you cut batiks up they no longer look like wonderful combinations, but like different fabrics! Since they were varied in the center, I thought to vary them along with other reds at the edge. Most likely I’ll add a narrow strip of the cream background to float the fourth border and bind it in the navy. My overall feeling is that this quilt remains separate parts instead of becoming a unified whole. I suppose that is mostly because of the separate colors of the middle two rows and the matching narrow strips. Any other thoughts as to why?

For my serious scrappy work, I made another hat. Someday that unending supply of yarn ends will be gone. Sigh.

If you like to see what others are doing with scraps, check out Kate’s blog (here) for a list of people who often work with scraps and post near the 15th of the month.

My other accomplishment for the month (plus reading a lot of books) was finally hanging a wall hanging.

Back when I made the quilt and took its picture on the sofa under the watercolor, I noticed they went together. Till then I’d not hung any quilts because they just didn’t go with the other art I’d purchased over the years at a local art festival. So I was happy to have one that worked. I dawdled over making hanging stuff and finally asked my daughter’s partner if he would. It was more work than I realized I was asking for, so I’ll have to think of something nice to do in return

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Another Border and Then Some

The third border has taken a long time. First it is more fiddly (four seams and a trim for each of 48 blocks) so I stalled. Then I decided to cut the pieces for border four before sewing border three because I’d run out of leaders/enders with these two blocks.

The four-patch blocks were mindless enough, but making a patterned block got too fiddly to do much more of it as leader/ender. Since border four was made up of 60 16-patch one-inch square blocks (well a little cheating as some are 1 x 2 inch rectangles), that seemed to have mindless potential. So cut I did. Then it was so hypnotic that instead of making one 2-patch, I made all 120. Next time I needed an ender I made 60 4-patch blocks. But have no fear, mindlessness remains.

But finally border three got finished. I’m feeling ambivalent about it.The dark navy border felt finished. I almost pondered stopping and making a lap quilt. But I wanted to play the guild game, so continued on.This border follows the suggestion exactly. The only change I made was to continue with 1-inch “resting” borders instead of 2-inch ones.

My thinking in planning the colors was navy in the middle to sort of echo the navy in the middle of one block in the center Turkey-in-the-Straw block. Maybe it will have that effect more after the fourth border is added. Stay tuned.

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Bear Paw and Border

Scrap Happy Day has rolled around again. While I used only 12 squares of red scraps on the border, I did finish a scrap block as a leader/ender. The block is ancient history. The brown fabric is left over from a housecoat I had made around 50 years ago, I guess that makes it vintage fabric? Twenty-five or so years ago, I had looked at the scraps I’d been gathering for a long time and decided it was time to begin to use them. It was long before I’d ever read a Bonnie Hunter post and maybe even before the internet. My concept of scrap control was to select fabrics and see what block I had enough fabric to make. Needless to say, that was less than efficient. In fact I made up only one kit. It traveled with me to many quilt guild retreats as a back up project just in case I finished everything else I had wanted to accomplish. I was out of leader/ender items, so decided to try making a block. (I don’t recommend it for leaders/enders–too much thinking required..)

Bear Paw: 7-inch and 14-inch

I have no idea what I will do with them. Maybe take them to the guild free table when we meet in person again and let someone else play. If you want to see some more scrap work, visit Kate’s blog (here) where she posts and lists links to folks who play with scraps.

On to the second border of the guild medallion quilt (first border here) The directions called for a 2-inch resting border, but because I’d modified the first border and had a row of one-inch squares, I felt the need for more one-inchness and made two one inch “resting” borders to maintain the measurements. Then (gasp!) ripped out the cornerstones and replaced them with red.

The left photo is the first try. After I added the cornerstones I realized that the effect I’d wanted required the two one-inch pieces to be sewn as one border and a four-patch used for a cornerstone. While pondering if I could live with what I had created, I got another idea. I’d been wondering how to keep bits of red as accent without overpowering–how about red cornerstones? Yep, I liked it.

I put off the next step for a while because I thought it was going to be difficult to attach the triangles in a straight row. Seems I’d tried it once before and ended up with a crooked mess. But with the help of a tri-rec ruler it was a breeze.

On the right is the way the ruler is meant to work. See the notch? It guides the placement so that the triangle with two “wings” makes a square block. Well, I was hoping to save a seam and just alternate triangles, and it worked.

So here is the second border.

42x 42 at this point

And I added the first half of the next “resting” border. I decided to keep the one-inch with red cornerstone thing going. I had decided to consider the offered instructions, and if I liked them, use them. This one is as directed (except without the seams in the yellow triangles). I’ll be following the directions for the next two as well. The third is square in a square which echoes the same in the center block. I’d been thinking about the fourth and thought I wanted one inch squares in it somewhere, and they offered a good idea.

I’m not sure I’ll use the idea of moving from small to large in a border again. It sorta looks like ‘I got tired and wanted to hurry and finish.’ We’ll see if drawing it back to one inch squares works to overcome that effect.

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First Border and a Hat

I’d sorta planned on having more than the first border before posting next; however, I got sidetracked with Paul Farmer’s Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History. In it he argues for long term efforts at creating a stable medical system over short term focus on containing an epidemic, the latter efforts ending when the epidemic is declared over.He argues for contextualizing understanding of an epidemic in terms of history and reviews West African history back to the slave trade. It was an introduction to W African history for me as well as social medicine. So, a good read, but it did my sewing time in.

So what I accomplished was the second half of the first border.

One thing that I like about medallion quilts is how each addition totally changes the feel ( Here, if you want to see before the blue). Also seeing the whole totally solved the design issue I was talking about last time–more about that when I get it sewn and show it. In the abstract, I would prefer two or more rows of either or both size squares; however, this gets me to the measurement I need at the end of the first border, so I’m stopping with the two. In spite of preferring more, the last time I did a medallion, I used this same combination of two–it fit just right there too. I am always interested in how color changes the look, so here is a comparison.

In case you want to see the pastel border in context of the top, a photo is here. The top has been pinned and ready to quilt for quite a while. Back when I thought I had a deadline I was going to meander since I didn’t have a better idea. I still don’t have a better idea, but who knows what time might bring, so I’ll let it age a bit more.

And the hat. This time I used up bits whereas before I’d had enough to try to work out design.

I have folded it as I would wish the design to fall; but when worn, I think the brim will be narrower. There was enough of the multi-colored yarn to make it longer, and I wish I had. Somehow what I measure on the needles is never the length a piece is when completed, nor is my estimate for what the length of the decrease rows the same as what I end up with. Maybe if I make enough of them and stop changing needle size . . .

So till next time . . .

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Voila!

Well, it really is a little sweater! But first the “blob.”

See the indent in the lower right? That is the front neck and it gets rotated up.

Here’s the back view.

Surprisingly, one error in marking increases and decreases fixed all the problems in the first try. https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/the-skeptics-win-the-first-round/?preview=true

In the previous post I’d mentioned changing color on the wrong side so I got the divided line where it would show on the right side. And I wondered if I could make it look intentional. I think I did.

And here it is, all ends woven in and shoulder seams sewn. This design is for a baby with strong taste, who doesn’t want to dress like a baby.

The Complete Surprise book does more than clarify instructions. There are photographs explaining stitches and charts to help with design. It is so thoroughly explained that the end result is no longer much of a surprise. And if you like line-by-line instructions, they are there too.

It offers variations in size and feature. It explains the geometry and sizing. So I think I’ll make me one.

Let’s see. I am to cast on the desired width + 6 times the arm width times gauge. I guess I can’t avoid knitting a swatch.

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Another Beginning

So the T Quilt doesn’t have a deadline after all. (Plans had changed when I wasn’t paying attention. ) There is no rush for the baby quilt. What better time than now to start something new?

Stretching Art and Tradition is coming up early next year. This year’s entry is being held to show next year, but we have also been given a theme for next year: When One Door Closes. (Wonder where that came from. )

This time the size requirement has changed to 24 inches by 36. A little easier than the old 18 x 36. So I started thinking. As you will remember, I prefer more abstract design, and that makes following a theme sometimes challenging. Also I have some Japanese kimono silk that I’d like to use; working with silk would be the new technique.

The first idea I had was an overall 9-patch structure composed of 9 9-patch blocks, each adding one more light square (well, rectangle and an odd size at that).

The idea turned out to be more interesting conceptually than visually. So I shifted to a grid of 4-inch squares with a dark to light movement. First try

I plan all the light squares to be the silk with fabric manipulation for variety and the dark to be one shade of dark, varied textures (velvet, cotton, satin, corduroy) and maybe different close hues ( brown, purple, black).

Not sure I like the clump of four, though the idea was to have it reappear after being blocked. Again the visual interest may not equal the conceptual. So I tried again.

I’m liking it better but not committed to it. Stay tuned.

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Leaders/Enders Progress—and Scrap Happy

Another project I worked on during the virtual retreat was attaching 4-patch blocks to their alternate blocks for their last round as leaders/enders. These 2-inch squares have been leaders and enders for forever—at least 2 years, maybe 3. Of course their use had been interrupted by two other leader/ender projects: Star Kissed https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/star-kissed-1-is-finished/ and Irish Star https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2020/04/15/irish-star-2-top-finished/

After this step was finished at the retreat, it was time for them to graduate and become a project. So after a while, I laid them out and did a bit of rearranging so that fabrics that drew attention to themselves were somewhat spaced. Then sewed.

36 x 36

It won’t make it to this year’s Toy and Joy, but the fire fighters need the quilts (and quilts get delivered) all year. Usually a fire fighter representative picks a dramatically large batch up at the December meeting, but with Covid and virtual meetings quilts had to be dropped off early November. It will just not get to the guild’s total, and that’s not the end of the world. It will augment next year’s.

This top is made 100% from scraps. There were only threads remaining after I cut the 72 squares for the alternate blocks. If you like Scrappy projects, check out Kate’s blog and follow links that are there. https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/

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T-for-Terry Top and Back

And the top is finished.

You can hardly tell that the final border is made of squares, and that was the plan. If there had been enough fabric it would have been a plain strip of the same batik that is in the center block.

I like the narrow brown border, but it didn’t solve the balance issue. And I see why not. The area between the two narrow borders functions visually as a unit. Even though that had been my intent, I’d not made the next step to think balance. Rather I’d used the 2, 3, 4 inch units to figure the next. (Interestingly, I’d treated the middle two as one, but I didn’t carry that concept through. ) So a 9-inch outer border might have worked, or a 6 if I had had enough fabric. And a use for a larger quilt. I was aiming for something near 40 x 60, and it is 46 x 64. ( Do I get extra credit for a palindrome measurement?)

Put on your sunglasses for the back. Are you ready?

The bright is the rest of the fabric in the alternating squares of the final border on the front. When I use only 2 fabrics on a back and have enough fabric, I like to use the “zipper” strip to join them. I think it looks more like I designed it than that I ran out of fabric. And it doesn’t add much construction time.

Tomorrow the quilt gets sandwiched.

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Almost

This was supposed to be the post that said, Top finished. But I laid the last border out and am not sure.

My first thought was that the problem was that the two last borders should not be the same size. If so, I can only learn not to do that again and just finish it up. My second thought was that the blending shades had gotten boring. Interestingly, it looks better in the photo than in real life. The photo has more value contrast.

I am thinking of a narrow brown border before the final one. We’ll see. ( I already have to fudge the length so adding a half-inch border wouldn’t be a problem. )

Meanwhile I am happy with the strip of one-inch squares.

The first layout for that border was a disappointment. I did my usual construction of apparent randomness, and it just looked messy and busy. Chaotic even. (Sorry, I didn’t document it. ) Then I got the idea of matching the previous row, tried it, and liked it. I matched all but the light pink; otherwise, too much pink in spots.

A note about color. Last summer in her color class on Academy of Quilting, Elizabeth Barton mentioned that using cool and warm variations of a color gave a piece added depth. The batik already had that feature, my pink scraps came in orangish and purplish. So I tried it and like it.

I’ll be working on the top tomorrow so I can consider using any early suggestions. Later suggestions will be mentally useful to consider. They just won’t make it to this quilt.

ETA audition of brown

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