Sunday, October 26, 2008

my great big bloggy adventure in rhinebeck

I barely made it to Rhinebeck, but I'm so glad that I did. With a limited budget and other commitments it would have been so easy not to go, but the chance to meet some of my fellow bloggers had me driving and lost all over the back roads of dark upstate New York. The NY State Thruway really needs some more exits, what's all this bullhocky about the next exit being 17 miles away? The bloggers were why I went though, and it was swarming with them. When I finally pulled into the Elks Club in Red Hook for the Ravelry party, the place was rocking. I'm sure the Elks thought that knitters would be a mellow bunch but it was not so, the freezing cold was not slowing anybody down. There was music, a cash bar, open buffet, and piles and piles of giveaways for the lottery (which none my little group won). The best part was that I met up with Kim, Deborah, Shameka, and Yvonne. I didn't get a picture of Yvonne, but below are Deborah and Kim, trying to stay warm with all their great hand knits.


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Knitting bloggers are the best of folks, and Deborah, Shameka, and Mary Beth (who couldn't make it, but is coming in '09 or else!) invited me to share their hotel room. Thanks gals, you're the best. We stayed at the Skybus in Kingston which Deborah renamed Slasher Motel because of the thin walls and floors. Below is Deborah in front of our room, looking fab in her Wicked.

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Here are Shameka, me, and Deborah in the a.m. before heading over to the fairgrounds. We made it through the night well rested even though there were some accusations of snoring, and luckily no parties next door.

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This was my first Rhinebeck, it is the biggest fiber fest I've ever been to and well worth the visit. After walking around all day I still didn't manage to see everything. I ate the fried artichokes, sampled the wine, and bought cheese, chocolate, and maple syrup cotton candy. And... met more bloggers! My phone rang and *brrriiing* it was Michelle, who had gotten my number from Kim. It's so cool to meet up with someone who I've never met face to face but I know all about her pets and knitting (and her REALLY not so-boring-life).

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And then I turned around and *bam*, there was Cheryl. Yay, I was hoping that I would run into her. She's modeling her February Lady out of her own handspun yarn.

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Here are Michelle, blogless Sophia, and Kim in her Not Cropped Cardi. My last photo before I rushed around trying to buy one last skein before I had to hit the road. Did I buy yarn? A bit. But it really wasn't about the yarn, now was it?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

red strippy baby quilt

My red strippy quilt is an FO and delivered to it's destination. I was making this one as a baby quilt for a good friend who is pregnant and finished it just in time (barely, with fingers practically bleeding) for the baby shower. The design is my own, with 1 1/2 inch and 2 1/2 inch strips pieced together out of vintage kimono fabrics from Ah! Kimono, other random red and white fabrics, and quite a lot of Amy Butler's Wallflower in Cherry, and Full Moon Polka Dot in Cherry. When I started working with all the reds I had to eliminate some when I realized that cherry, scarlet, burgundy, salmon, and all the other gadzillion reds don't necessarily all play together happily. The back and binding are Kaffe Fassett's Aboriginal Dot in Delft. I thought that for once I would make a whole quilt without using a single piece of Kaffe fabric, but the blue crept in as the perfect counterpoint to the hot reds.

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Here is a detail of the quilt and back. I quilted it myself simply with long stitches down some of the strips. You may be able to see that some of the strips aren't straight. The vintage silks were pretty smooshy and didn't like staying straight but I really don't mind. I have a great fascination with primitive quilts and think way too much importance is attached to technique in quilting today. Most Gee's Bend quilts don't have a straight line in them and have much more visual drama than anything you will find at a quilt show.

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Here is the Huz helping out by holding the quilt up with his usual up swept morning hairdo. He didn't realize that I would catch him in action.

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A shot of the quilt in the room that it will live in, doesn't it look fab? I love this baby room. Baby Mama was on the blog and guessed that the quilt might be for her when she saw the ABC fabric. I think Baby Mama liked the quilt even though she seemed a bit overwhelmed by being the center of attention at the shower and coping with all the usual oohs and aahs that come with the gift opening. I hope that she will use the quilt and not just salt it away like good china. On the chair is a pillow that I made some time ago for her out of wool felt, the bird is machine stitched on.

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Next post: My great big bloggy adventure in Rhinebeck!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

how to baste a quilt

There are many ways to skin this cat, this is my down and dirty way which any beginner can tackle.

I've got my top nicely pieced together and pressed, and now what? What I usually do is send the quilt to a pro who will quilt it for me with a long-arm machine. This quilt is smallish, so I figured I could tackle it myself, saving money and time. The backing fabric and the batting should both be slightly larger than the top of the quilt. The rule of thumb for a machine quilter is and extra 4 inches of fabric on all sides, this compensates for any fabric drift than might occur when quilting. Extra backing fabric and batting will be trimmed off after quilting, but it can be disaster if you have to trim down of the front. I only have a couple of inches on all sides, but this is a small quilt, so not too much drift will happen.


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I lay my backing fabric on the wood floor, right side down, and and tape it. In this case I used painters tape. The way I tape is similar to the way an artist stretches a canvas. I start taping on the middle of each side first and gently smoothing the fabric and making sure it is slightly taut. Then I work my way towards the corners, switching from side to side, taping every few inches. I then repeat this process with the batting, smoothing it thoroughly before taping, and then top of the quilt making sure it relatively true.

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Once everything is happily taped I start basting. Using nice long running stitches, I work from the center of the quilt outwards in radiating lines. A basting line every six inches is a good rule of thumb. At the end I baste all around the periphery of the quilt. A good basting job will eliminate any tucks of fabric on the backing when it's quilted. Now it's ready for quilting, remove tape and have at it!

Please feel free to leave my any suggestions about my basting process or better ways to do this. One of these days I'll hand quilt, but for now I use very basic machine quilting.

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The last lobster roll of the season from Chauncey Creek. These are the best lobster rolls, big and meaty, not much mayo, no fillers. Mmm, mmm.

I plan on being in Rhinebeck Saturday night and Sunday. Will I find any of you there?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

kaffe fassett, the grandmaster of color

Warning, this is a picture heavy post and there might be quite a lot of gushing so steel yourself.

Kaffe Fassett was in town this past weekend and I was lucky enough to take his patchwork workshop. When he last came here three years ago I heard his lecture and was a class monitor, and instantly became a groupie. I swore that the next time he came around I would take his class and I was not disappointed. Here I am, below, with the crafting rock star himself. I didn't shriek like a Beatles fan, but it was close.

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While Kaffe was waiting for the students to assemble he was knitting. How could I pass up the opportunity to snap a picture of Kaffe knitting?! He is working on a cotton sweater with a gray background and many many colored dots which is to be commercially produced. Interestingly, he knits right handed. I would have assumed that he would knit continental, but it is not so. He does hold his yarn very very close to the tips of the needles and works very quickly without releasing his right hand. He just flicks the yarn over with his right fore finger. I would wager that he can knit as fast as any continental knitter. In his lecture he talked about how he learned to knit from a fellow passenger on the train from Scotland.

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In these two pictures, Kaffe and Brandon Mably are critiquing the work that I did in the class. Brandon was assisting Kaffe all weekend and he is an absolute hoot, he has a sharp wit which works nicely with Kaffe's more lyrical prose. For the workshop each student hung a length of taupe or gray flannel on the wall to use as their design wall. The project was The Tapestry Garden Quilt from the Kaffe's Kaleidescope of Quilts book. There are only three block sizes seemingly randomly arranged. For what appears to be a simple quilt it was remarkably hard to get it working right, but there was an amazing variety of solutions in the class. Kaffe really encouraged people to stop thinking, which is probably the downfall of most quilters, and get the blocks up on the wall as quickly as possible and then react to them and play with color. Kaffe and Brandon were both very generous with their comments and I imagine that every student went home with their egos well massaged.

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Here is my Blue Tiles Quilt hung in the Invitational Show. Some friends have asked me if I won. It wasn't a juried show so there were no ribbons, but the audience could vote on their favorite. I haven't found out who the audience favorite was yet, but there were a number of worthy entries. I was proud of what I had done though, my quilt was an original design which I think counts for something. There are two extremely well crafted and gorgeous versions of Kaffe's original designs reinterpreted by talented quilters on either side of my quilt in the picture. Kaffe also brought some of his own quilts with him and they were so nice to see in person, the colors are much richer than their pictures in his new Country Garden Quilts book.

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When Kaffe and Brandon were here three years ago, I had just made a kimono style wrap shirt of my own design out of Kaffe's Lotus Leaf Antique with dupioni silk trim at the sleeves. Brandon loved it and insisted on buying it for his twin sister, which was very flattering. Stupidly I didn't take any pictures of the shirt, that was pre-blogging. Brandon told me that his sister still wears the shirt to chic occasions and I'm glad to hear that it went to a good home. This time I wore a vest that I made a couple years ago out of fabric from Kaffe's Lille collection, which I believe has been discontinued, with dupioni silk trim at the collar and armholes. The pattern is Vogue V8196. Brandon loved it and wanted to buy it again! The shirt has gone in Kaffe and Brandon's luggage for a tour of workshops across the country and then a glamorous life in London. I wonder if Kaffe and Brandon need someone to carry their luggage?

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A little detail of the insanity of the ball buttons down the front of the vest and the narrow ribbon that I used for button loops.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

there is a new quilt brewing

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It's a strippy improv thing again. Will I ever tire of strippy quilts? One thing that I have learned about strippy quilts is that is better to work on them in sections and then sew the sections together. My instinct is to keep attaching pieces to a growing mass but then the strips start to fan outwards.

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Kaffe Fassett is coming to town this weekend. The grand master of color will ride into town on his magical technicolor carpet. I am super super pumped about taking his workshop on Saturday. With any luck I will be able to post a picture of myself with Kaffe in my next post. I feel a little odd about asking for a picture, it seems like such a silly star struck thing to do. He is here for the weekend with workshops for two days and a lecture and book signing on Saturday night. See the Portsmouth Fabric Company website for more info. There is also an invitational quilt show and I have entered my Blue Tiles Quilt in it. This is my first time entering a quilt show and it is pretty thrilling that Kaffe himself will see the quilt. Stop by the Connie Bean Center in Portsmouth this weekend on Saturday or Sunday from 10 to 5 to see the show.

I almost forgot to mention that I was nominated for an "I Love Your Blog" award by UnionPurl. Thank you! I'm humbled that the award has been passed to me. Please take a gander at her amazing blog, she is an incredible knitter and the volume of information in her posts about knitting, typography, art history and you-name-it is amazing.