Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Quilt #6: Also Known As A Very Tardy Wedding Quilt

My brother married his bride, Stephanie, in 2001. Well before-hand, I decided to make a wedding quilt for them, and I twisted our mom's arm into agreeing to hand-quilt it. Mom even purchased a Grace Company quilt frame especially for the purpose. Well, one thing led to another, and it was just over half quilted before Mom was unable to work on it any more due to her arthritis. There were three of seven rows of blocks remaining to quilt, along with the top borders.

Flash forward about 14 years... In all the time that it has been waiting to be finished, I knew I *could* finish hand quilting it, but I just didn't get my mind set to do it. One reluctance was remembering how rough and sore my fingers would get from even just a little bit of hand quilting. Last summer, I came across the "TJ's Quick Quilter" spoon, and I decided it was the answer to the problem. I tried out the spoon technique on a little bit of a small quilt (which I haven't actually finished, yet, either), and then I took the dust cloth off of the wedding quilt (still on its frame), and got to work.

Another problem I had to tackle was that the double extension on the bars of the quilt frame (to make it king size) were pulling in quite a bit, and I was afraid the whole thing would end up extremely wonky. With the outer edges drum tight, the center was not even tight enough to quilt. To address that issue, my father-in-law, Ron, made two small braces to put in the middle of the frame between the first-and-second and second-and-third bars of the frame. (Note that the Grace Company has apparently improved their bar system. Instead of having 2x2 wood bars with overlapping diagonal pieces for extensions, they have what looks like a PVC tube now. That would be far better... But I'm working with a circa 2000 frame. By the way, other than the sagging bar problem, I highly endorse it.)

Below, you can see the quilt on the frame without the braces.

wedding on frame - unsuported

Here's how it looks with the braces inserted on the back... not perfect, but much more "square."

wedding on frame

Ron made the braces in a family-member's wood shop, cutting them out on a jigsaw and sanding them down so they wouldn't rough up the quilt fabric.

Quilt frame braces

I machine embroidered the butterflies on every other block, a different color of thread for each block.

Stephanie and Dave - small butterflies

There is a quilted butterfly on the plain blocks. (Those are hearts in the wings.)

Stephanie and Dave - butterflies

I also embroidered flowers in the corner sashing blocks. All the embroidery was done on a Viking Rose embroidery machine.

Stephanie and Dave - big butterflies

The heart border is machine applique'd die-cuts that I purchased as a group from Keepsake Quilting.

Stephanie and Dave - green heart

The quilting in the sashing is a heart/vine pattern, and there is a frilly heart-feather pattern in the outer border.

I timed myself quilting the different motifs, and then multiplied over the number of each motif. Assuming my mom quilts at the same rate I do, there is about 325 hours of quilting (not counting marking, rolling, and other support time). I have no reasonable way to estimate the time it took to make the top. It seems excessive that it took 14 years to do 325 hours of quilting, but there was a considerable hiatus in there... Once I started, it took under four months to do the less-than-half remaining.

Stephanie and Dave

The tag tells the tale...

Stephanie and Dave - tag

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Christmas Quilts: Nephews

As I was making the "Summer in the Park" quilts (previous post), I ordered more jelly rolls (and flat strip packs) to make two quilts for my nephews. For Dane's quilt, I chose red and blue. Those are the same colors I used in Dane's baby quilt.

Dane Materials

For Reese's quilt, I wasn't sure what colors I wanted to use, and I just looked for batik strips that appealed to me and didn't seem girly. I ended up with earthy colors. I hope it isn't too dark.

Reese Materials

When it came time to make them, I decided to do something different than Summer in the Park. Dane's quilt uses a simple checkboard which is simple to assemble by sewing four 2.5" strips together lengthwise and then cutting them crosswise 2.5" apart and flipping every other unit before sewing them back together. I kept the sewn blocks in units of four and then alternated the types of blocks for a checkerboard within a checkerboard.


The second quilt I decided to make into a log cabin. I had enough left over pieces to do a checkerboard border and end up without about the same size as the first quilt.


Mary Ellen Moeser quilted both quilts in a swirl pattern. Mary Ellen can be found at Jackman's Fabrics in O'Fallon, IL.

Dane - tag

Reese - Tag

I hope the boys like their quilts.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Christmas Quilts: Mom and Dad

I made these "his and hers" quilts for my mom and dad. I used jelly rolls in batik prints, a mix of different brands and colors, choosing a half of the jelly rolls in neutrals to get the contrast. The pattern is based on a "Summer in the Park" tutorial I found on Pinterest from Missouri Star Quilt Company.



The jelly roll strips get sewn together lengthwise and then cut into squares on a 45 degree angle, turned, and sewn back together. The toughest part is not stretching the bias edges.

Tamara Lynn at Itch'n To Be Stitch'n in Staunton, IL, quilted them using a pantograph design with large feathers. I really like how the swirly quilting design contrasts with the geometric lines of the blocks.

Mom - tag

Dad - tag

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Christmas Quilts: Cattle Crossing

I gifted six quilts this Christmas. The first one was based on a pattern called, "Cattle Crossing," by Myrna Giesbrecht. It was in a booklet called, "Strip Quilts in a Hurry," that I purchased back in the last century. (Really. Doesn't that sound funny? It was published in 1994.) "Cattle Crossing" is the cover quilt on the booklet. It used a lot of white for contrast, which I replaced with green, but I used the same cow fabric as the original. (It is likely not available any more. I've had it as long as I've had the booklet!) It was originally a wall hanging, (49" x 57"), but I sized it up for a queen sized bed. After seeing it made up, I understand the wisdom of using white fabric for alternating squares, providing more contrast.

Cow quilt

I got a little carried away with appliqueing the cows coming out of the blocks... They are fused down and then edged with mono-filament thread.

Cow quilt - cows

It was quilted by Aubry Dunn in Edwardsville. The cows have echo outlining and then the rest is filled in with a wave pattern. I picked a yellow thread to complement the sunflowers. Aubry recommended Susie's Magical Binding, advice that I took and found both quick and cute. It uses a two-fabric, machine-sewn binding that ends up looking like it has a little piping inside the front edge of the binding. I picked plain yellow fabric for the "piping" part of the binding.

Cow quilt - tag2

This quilt was gifted to Chris' parents.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blue Beads

Now that all my Christmas gift crafting is finally done, I'm free to work on other projects that have been queued up...

In September, I took a business trip with a co-worker and new friend who likes to bead, and we went to some bead and other craft shops while we were there. I purchased some blue beads to make a necklace, modeled after one of their displays (number of beads and alternating sizes), but choosing my own beads.

I particularly liked the blue glass beads with the white polka dots and alien-looking protuberances, and I chose the rest of the beads to go with them.

Blue necklace 1

Blue necklace 2

Blue necklace 3

It was really quick, once I finally sat down to do it...

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Monday, December 21, 2015


We went to see Star Wars Episode VII on opening night. We were going to wait until after the weekend, but I got antsy on Friday and checked for tickets. There were still seats available, so we went. I think there is a fun symmetry in the fact that I saw Star Wars when it came out, just after my tenth birthday, and now it is just after Mitchell's tenth birthday, and he is seeing the next generation of Star Wars. He said it was the best movie he ever saw. (I wouldn't go that far, but I thought it was fun that he said so.)

He has been anticipating it for months. He has been taken in by the merchandising. I have to agree that the stormtrooper jacket is pretty cool.

Sipping 0 Sipping 2 Sipping 1 Sipping 3 BB1 BB2 BB3
He's really beginning to change into a young man.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Hamster

Ginger checked out the Christmas tree. The Santa hat ornament came from David (Southern Cross Fibre) as part of the ocean towel swap, last year.

Christmas Ginger

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sue Spargo and Butterflies

Some time ago, I ran across the Sue Spargo "Embroidering Texture and Dimension by Hand" class on Craftsy. I've watched the whole thing and started collecting wools, threads and embellishments to make the butterfly sampler that is part of the class. (This class is half off right now, for Black Friday weekend.)

Wools for Butterflies

I am completely buried in Christmas quilting, and so I haven't actually started making the butterflies.

I became very aware of and interested in Sue Spargo's work right at the time that her web site announced sign ups for next year's "block of the month" club for 2016, "Cuppa." I signed up for it and will anxiously await the first kit in the second week of each month, starting in January. There are ~1000 people signed up, and kit mailings are spread out over the weeks of the month. I got week two. Unfortunately, the club is "private," and no social media info about it is allowed, so I won't be able to post progress. I'll show the butterflies when I get them going, though. :)

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

This is the first Butterfly/Sue Spargo post.


Well, it is long past time to post, but here is what Mitchell did for Halloween. The back of his shirt says, "Steve_Duncan," his username on the multi-player server where he plays Minecraft online.

Halloween 1

Halloween 2

Halloween 3

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Monday, November 23, 2015

Washing Socks

Here's what it looks like after I wash my hand-knitted socks.

washing socks

I keep them in a certain spot for "dirty socks" and save them up for a while. Then, I hand wash them in batches, by color. (This was three colors.) I soak them in luke-warm water with "Soak," gently squeeze them a bit to get some water out, and put them in the washer on spin (all three batches together). "Soak" doesn't have to be rinsed out, which is one of the best parts. After the spin, they go on the drying rack.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mitchell's Airplane Quilt

I got Mitchell's quilt back from machine quilting (yes, yes, I paid someone to quilt it), and I got the binding and label done.

Mitchell - Done 1 Mitchell - Done 2 Mitchell - Done 3

His daddy modeled it for me.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fourth Grade

Mitchell started 4th grade this week.

4th grade Day 1 - 1

4th grade Day 1 - 2

4th grade Day 1 - 3

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Drunkard's Path

I returned to a UFO (unfinished object) that has been in its project bag since I took a class at the 2011 AQS show in Nashville. It was a class called "Curing Curve-a-Phobia," and we basically learned how to make the quarter circle blocks for an old-fashioned "Drunkard's Path" block. I had made nine blocks. I pulled them out and put them together with two borders. Here is the quilt sandwich, ready to be basted:

Drunkards Path - 1 Drunkards Path - 2

I started hand quilting. Here are the first two circles quilted.

Drunkards Path - 3

I'm really pleased with how the quilting is going. I purchased a TJ's Quick Quilter spoon, having seen an article from Jenny Beyer saying how well it worked at resolving the problem of sore fingers from sticking them with the needle. (I also recommend the video. I never would have figured it out, otherwise.) In addition to solving sore fingers, it also helps gauge stitches. I am very pleased to say that I'm getting ten stitches per inch. I recall that I used to get around six. My hand quilting still leaves some room for improvement in neatness/consistency, but it's come a long way!

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay


A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Hummingbird Festival at Lewis and Clark Memorial. It was on my mom's 70th birthday.

The Lincoln Land Association of Bird Banders catches and bands (or records previously-banded) hummingbirds. Visitors can adopt a bird and then get to release it. Vernon Kleen (below) is one of three people in IL licensed to catch hummingbirds. Once a person adopts a bird, they receive a note whenever the bird is later caught again.

Hummingbird 2 Hummingbird 3 Hummingbird 1

I learned some things in the presentation before the banding began. Did you know:

1) There is mainly one type of hummingbird in Illinois, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird. There is another that is seen occasionally, the Rufous Hummingbird, and a few others that are seen only very rarely.

2) Hummingbirds arrive around April 15 and depart again around August 15.

3) It is OK to leave feeders out well past August 15, even past Thanksgiving, giving the best opportunity to see other species. Birds will come to feeders even when there is snow on them. One approach is to take feeders inside overnight (to thaw) and put them back out in the morning.

4) The male Ruby Throat can adjust his feathers to hide his red neck. At the festival, we could see this happen with the caught birds, watching as they would show and then hide their red feathers. So interesting!

I have three feeders in my yard, fairly close together. I have one male that keeps them pretty much to himself. The pictures below are taken from my front window.

Hummingbird 4 Hummingbird 5

He sits in one of the two trees, on either side of the front walk, and watches the feeders and chases other birds away.

Hummingbird 6

Can you see him? He is just above and to the right of the highest/middle spruce branch.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay