Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Socks and New Friends

 I just finished a pair of socks for my DH.  His birthday is Friday and I plan to make them one of his birthday gifts.  He doesn't look at my blog very often, so I THINK it's safe to post a pic of them here.  The pattern is Mr Pitt's Socks by Kaitlyn Falk Wong.  The yarn is String Theory hand dyed Caper Sock- color Brina.  They're sooooooo soft!

Clockwise from lower left- Carol, Sue, Wendy, Conney Jo, and Cindy.

 I had a blast yesterday.  I took a break from working on the Double Wedding Ring quilt and spent some time visiting yarn shops with some friends of mine from Ravelry.  If you are a knitter (or if you like to crochet) and you don't know about Ravelry--- as soon as you finish reading this post, you HAVE to check out  On Ravelry, you will find patterns, projects, and lots of chat groups with every interest imaginable... for knitters.  As most of my regular readers know, I'm a quilter- I own a quilt shop.  But I also love to knit.  I usually quilt when I can at home and during my work day, and I knit when I watch TV or when I'm a passenger in a car.  You can get a lot of knitting done that way!  Knitting is very portable and I often take it on vacation or any other time when I know I will have blocks of time like in doctors' waiting rooms, etc.

The above photo is a group of ladies who are on Ravelry- all from the Portland/ Vancouver general area.  We all  belong to a chat group on Ravelry of people who like patterns and yarn designed and dyed by Wendy Gaal, who is the owner of Knitters Brewing Company.  There are almost 1500 people in this particular chat group  As with most groups like this, there are probably 10% of the people (or less) who actively post.  Anyway- several of us feel like we know each other from chatting and posting on the KBC group.   Most of us have participated in "Knit Alongs" with other group members, too.  By the way- we were all wearing socks that we knitted using yarn and patterns from Knitters Brewing Company.

A few weeks ago, Wendy announced that she and her DH were coming to Portland for a vacation.  Well... the group was abuzz and several of us who live near Portland decided to get together and drag Wendy to a morning of yarn shopping.

HOW FUN it was to get to meet the people I have been chatting with for over a year online!  I knew I would like them all, and I wasn't disappointed.  I have new friends!  We plan to get together again to knit.

Wendy Gaal, owner (Brewmistress)  of Knitters Brewing Company.  KBC sells luxury sock yarn and creative original patterns using sock weight yarn. Check out her Knitters Brewing Company website.

This is just too good not to show you.  Conny Jo had recent surgery on her foot and this outing was the first big one for her since her surgery.  See that big foot propped up?  She knitted a cast cozy for her owie!  Look at the color-work on that baby!

What a wonderful day had!  (giggle)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Giveaway update

We're getting close!  The giveaway ends On October 31st at midnight PST (Oregon time).  But I plan to be asleep, so I'll select the winner on the morning of November 1st.  I will delete any names that come in after midnight, though.  It will be a happy Monday for some lucky reader!

I'm blown away by all of the entries and all of my new followers.  I hoe you will keep reading after the giveaway is over.  I know I missed some, but I tried to click on most of your blogs.  I've totally enjoyed peeking into your crafting lives!  I'm very sad, though, that a LOT of those who have entered are "no reply" bloggers.  Some of you have asked questions or made nice comments and I can't reply to you because I don't have contact information.  I really do understand if you want to keep your email private, but I know that most of you don't know I can't contact you.  Try clicking on your own name and see what happens!  I try to reply to most comments.  If you leave comments (other than the giveaway entry) and I never reply to you- that's a big clue that your profile has you set up as "no reply".

If the random number generator selects your name and I can't contact you, I'll announce it in a great big font on here and give you 24 hrs to contact me.  After that, if I don't hear from you, I'll select another name.  I'm just mentioning this again to remind you to check the blog on Nov 1st.... you never know!  Remember- I once one a cruise when I bought ONE raffle ticket!

Even after the giveaway is over, I'll be doing lots of posts with projects using the GO!  I have the fabric selected for a Dresden Plate, a Winding Ways and a Hexie quilt.  I'll be showing you the GO! and how I use it, but all of these posts are useful even if you are using traditional cutting methods. 

I wish I ha a hundred of these things to giveaway.... but I can hardly wait to announce the lucky winner!

Progress on the DWR, felting, a pattern link.

 I'm working, working, working!  Actually, I've been busy in the shop.  We've had a lot of orders this week.  But I've been working every day on the Double Wedding Ring.  I have the red arcs all done- with red squares on the ends of half of them.  Now I'm working on the black and whites.

One thing I've noticed is that the cutting mats will have a lifetime.  Unless I miss my guess, this one will be at the end of its lifetime by the time I've finished with this quilt.  They aren't very expensive, but I expected them to last a little longer than this.  If you have a GO!, what has your experience been with the lifespan of the mats?

It really is mind-boggling.  I've been actively working on this for about 2 weeks, and I almost have all of the pieces cut, and more than half of them stitched... for a king size Double Wedding Ring quilt!  That's incredible!  Without the GO!, this never would have been possible.  Next week all of these pieces will start to come together and I will finally be able to have the fun of placing the arcs and intertwining the colors.  I can hardly wait!

I got a lot of comments on the felted entrelac bags the other day.  Thank you  for all of your kind words. (blush, blush). I'm usually pretty good about citing patterns and giving links but it slipped my mind this time.  I'll go back and put it in that post, and also give it here.  The pattern I used is a Skill-Builder pattern by

 I also have a few Booga Bags.  The Booga Bag pattern is free and it's a great first felting project!

This one is pretty thick.  I used 2 strands of Cascade 220 wool yarn when knitting this one.  I used solid dark gray, light gray, and purple, alternating, for this.  To blend the colors, I started with
2 strands of dark gray for the bottom.
Then one strand of dark gray and one strand of light gray for 2 rows
Then 2 strands of light gray for several rows
Then one strand of light gray and one strand of purple for 2 rows
Then 2 strands of purple for 2 rows
Then 1 strand of purple and one strand of dark gray for 2 rows
then 2 strands of dark gray for several rows
.You get the idea.  Just keep using 2 of the same color, then one of the old and one of the new colors together for 2 rows.... then 2 of the new color.  It blends the colors nicely.

This is just a little one in single stranded self striping Noro Kuryon.  It's thinner and lighter.

I've loved this one for several years- it looks pretty good in this photo but it's far from new-looking these days.  How do you like the little "spooky eyes" fabric under the booga bags?  :-)

You can also take an old wool garment (sweaters are good), and felt them.  Then cut them up and use the felted wool to work with.  Resale shops are a great place to find old sweaters to felt.  Look for sweaters that have holes or are ripped.  They're cheap.

I lifted (with permission!) these photos from another blog.  AMKreations is very creative and has a nice blog.  She made this clutch by felting and old sweater and lining it with a pretty batik.  There's a little felted wallet in there, too.  I think I need one of these. :-)

I'd like to make a felted laptop cover one of these days.  You can get creative with the sweaters and use the ribbing at the waist for the flap of the bag, and use the ribbing at the cuff for pockets.  The possibilities are endless.  Have you made any felted items?  I'd love to see them!

Another thing I'd like to do someday is felt some old sweaters that belonged to my kids when they were little.  I saved some of them... not all in great shape... for this purpose.  It would be one of those "Mom things" to have a felted wallet or laptop case made from a sweater or blanket that my children used.  (My babies are grown men now).

I once made some felted place mats but I don't have a picture.  Just felt an old sweater, then cut place mats out of them.  It's that simple.  You can needle felt pretty designs on it if you like.

The last felting topic is needle felting.  That's a whole different ball game!  One of these days I'll do some needle felting and blog about it.  Gotta clear some other projects off the list first!

I have a wonderful day planned tomorrow with friends.... I'll take my camera.....

Veranda Tote

This is my new Veranda Tote bag.  I LOVE this bag!  A few weeks ago I told you that I took a few classes at a buyers market held by a quilting supply distributor.  I showed you the "Diamonds are a Quilter's Best Friend" table runner that I made.  I also took a class with Penny Surges to make this adorable tote bag.  Penny (on the right) was kind enough to pose for a photo with me holding my finished bag.

I love meeting and taking classes from pattern designers.  Penny is not only a sweet lady, but she is a very good teacher.  She makes her students feel good about their work and she helps to make them successful.  Penny is also the designer of the popular Bow Tucks Tote and the smaller version- the Mini Bow Tucks.

The front has 2 pockets with a cute little tailored ruffle.

And a closer-up----

This shot shows the back pocket and the stitching detail on the handle.

And the inside pockets.  LOVE all these pockets!  I put a plastic insert into the bottom (that's why it's shiny).

Here are a few of Penny's sample bags.  There are 2 pockets in the front.

The sides can be single pieces of fabric, or they can be pieced, as is the one in the middle (above photo).
Hmm.... looks like we were blocking the fire exit.  Good thing there wasn't a fire.

The photo above also has pieced sides.  Aren't those handles cute?  The handles are very sturdy.  They are lined and stitched all the way down the length in 4 places.

In both of these samples (above and below) you can see the 2 front pockets and cute coordinating button closure.  The back of the bag has one large pocket and the inside lining has large pockets all around.

The whole bag is stabilized with fusible fleece.  I love working with this stuff- it's easy to apply and gives the bag nice structure.  It's soft but not floppy.

I have the Veranda Tote pattern on my website, as well as fusible fleece by the yard.  And best of all... it's a fat quarter friendly project.  A nice coordinating pack of fat quarters is a good start for this bag.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knitted Entrelac Backpack and Tote

I recall that about a year ago, I told you I'd talk about felting.  The top photo is the finished project- small and large felted entrelac bags.  The lower photo is the bags before felting.  The pattern is a Skill Builder pattern by

There are lots of topics under the general heading of "felting".  I'll talk about all of them at some point, but right now I'd like to show you how to felt a knitted project.  In a nutshell, you knit something in mega size in 100% wool, then agitate it in hot water, dry it, and you have a felted product.  When it "felts", it shrinks up and the fibers become intertwined.  You get a solid piece of fabric- like a wool blanket.  It's great for handbags.  You can actually poke holes in it or cut it with scissors and it won't unravel.  It's really strong.

I love entrelac knitting.  I got hooked on it a few years ago.  My niece, Meredith, got me into this project.  She bought a skein of all of these colors in Lamb's Pride wool yarn.  She loaned me all of the yarns- you only needed a little of each one.  She made a bag, then loaned me the yarns and I made 2 bags, then I gave them back to her for more projects.  THANKS, MERE!  These are photos of the knitted bags before felting.  Look closely- there are 2 bags... my hand is on the top left for scale in the above photo.

This is a closeup of the bags before felting.

Most of us have accidentally felted something at some time in our lives.  That's when you take a favorite sweater and turn it into a Barbie doll outfit when you think you're using cold water in the washer but it's actually on hot/hot.  100% Wool (and some other natural fibers) shrink when agitated in warm water.  You can felt a project in a washing machine, or by hand.  When you felt by hand, you can just agitate it with your hands (or a wooden spoon or spatula).  You can also boil it, but not unless it's a solid color.  Otherwise- it will all kinda turn to a muddy color.  I know.

You can also do some felting with a steam iron.  The steam will felt wool, but without agitation, it will take more time at the iron that I want to spend.  It would be a good option for very minor felting or for delicate wool.

Be forewarned- if you felt in a washing machine, you should put the item in some sort of bag- I like using pillow cases.  If you don't do this- you will become best friends with your plumber.  The bag contains the blobs of wool and keeps them out of your plumbing.  It also protects the item you're felting from attracting other fibers which can become embedded (felted) into your project.  I know this, too.  When you agitate the item, you do this by throwing something tough in with it- like old jeans.  The first time I felted something, I threw in some old towels and didn't put it in a pillow case.  My DARK knitted bag ended up with white fibers (from the towels) permanently embedded into it.

You CAN felt in a front loader washing machine, but the results can be unpredictable.  I prefer using a top loader.  I have a front loader.  I sometimes go to a laundromat, and sometimes I beg someone with a top loader to let me play in their laundry room.

My felting bag is an old pillow case that I put a zipper into.  Works great. I put a very small amount of detergent into the washer and filled it with very hot water- then put it on the super duper cycle (or whatever your washer calls it).  Basically- treat it rough.  I keep pulling it out, opening the zipper and looking at it until it's the size I want.  Every time I pull it out, I use my fingers to shape and flatten areas that might be "rolling" or looking mis-shaped.

This is after felting.  Now they need to dry.  You're supposed to air dry them.  Sometimes (shhh.. don't tell the felt police) I put them, in the pillow case, in the dryer to get the drying started.  I don't leave the item in the dryer until it's finished drying- I just leave it in there long enough to get it past the really wet stage.  Put them over a form or stuff them if possible.  I made a large bag and 2 smaller ones.  The small ones are stuffed with small towels and the larger one is laying on the right.   It's too big to stand up and I couldn't find anything to invert it over.

Here are the little ones. 

And this is the big one all finished after drying for several days.

I used a heavy webbing for the straps.

The small bags have holes knitted into it for the straps.  I kept opening them up as it was felting.  For the large bag, I inserted grommets.  It will hold more weight.

The grommets are all around the top and there are 2 closer to the bottom.


Here's the finished small neutral bag.  I used Noro Kuryon yarn for it.  It's self-striping yarn so the colors just changed like that using one skein.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Arcs for the Double Wedding Ring and pressing tips

I'm moving along with my arcs for the Double Wedding Ring!  I now have 200 arcs sewn together.  Here is a pile of the finished reds.  I thought I had more red and white fabric that leaned toward the white.  But most of the fabrics in my collected pile ended up being more red... so that's what I went with.

I'd like to show you how I got to this point.

After a little practice, I settled on a way to cut the pieces to place on the die.  I first I ironed the fabric.  (more about that later).    I folded my fabric in half, and then again in thirds, to get these long strips that fit one of the pieces I wanted to cut.  I wanted to allow enough fabric to completely cover the shape, yet not waste a lot of fabric.  This is something you have to practice a bit.  I haven't seen many tips about this.  It was something I just had to play with on my own.

I ended up with some pieces that were a little bigger than the shape I wanted.  I made piles of 6 pieces of fabric.  

The way I accordion folded the fabric, half of the pieces are right side up and half are upside down.  If you look at the arc, the 3 shapes in the middle are identical, and they are symmetrical, so it doesn't make any difference if the fabric is place right side or wrong side up.  But the shapes on the far left and far right are NOT symmetrical.  I cut half right side up (for the shape on the left) and half right side down (for the shape on the right).  This accordion fold took care of that.  All of my cuts were half up and half down so everything came out OK.

I place the pile on the shape I want to cut, and then run it through the machine.  I must note here that it would be a lot more efficient if I had all my piles together and cut 2 shapes with one pass under the rollers.  But I was trying to keep my colors and shapes and the correct number of each all straight- and I opted to do one pile at a time.  Maybe I'll get better at this in time.

Here's a pile of my scraps.  I think I did pretty well at keeping the waste to a minimum.  This can go either way with the GO!.  You can waste a lot if you don't plan well.  But if you think about it, you really can do very well conserving fabric.

Here's a partial pile (I cut a lot more).  I used sticky notes to keep myself organized.

  You can see the 3 in the middle are symmetrical and the shapes on the left and right lean out.  On the far right, you see a single sewn strip.  To assemble the strips, I laid out the shapes for about 10 or 20 arcs.....

.... and then piled them IN ORDER.  I put the piles in front of my sewing machine.  I strip pieced the first 2 piles, then added the third... etc.... to the 5th pile.

Then to the ironing board.  I have several irons and ironing boards.  I have fat boards and big boards- you name it.  This board belongs to a friend.  Do you know this trick?  When you're doing quilting, you need space.  You don't need the skinny end of the ironing board to the left because you aren't ironing sleeves or anything 3-dimensional.  So, flip the ironing board around with the skinny end to the right and put the iron on the skinny end and you have more area to work.  Reverse this if you are a lefty.

I said I'd talk more about ironing.  BEFORE YOU START ANY CUTTING, you MUST iron your fabric.  I used some Best Press.  It's especially important to press if you pre-wash.  I usually pre-wash but not always.  With a black and red and white quilt, I kinda want the white to stay white, so I pre-washed.  It only takes one bleeding fabric to ruin your day.  Unwashed fabric usually looks pretty good,  but even if you think your fabric is not very wrinkled, press anyway.  I mean it.  This is not up for discussion.  And it's not just when using the GO!  Your iron is a sewing tool.  It can be your best friend if you're nice to it.  When pressing, treat it like a child or a pet.  Be firm.  Show it who is in charge.  But be kind.  Don't ever use a "scooping" motion or "dig" into the fabric with the point of the iron.  Be aware of the grain and be very gentle when pressing against the bias.  I like to use the side of my iron when pressing seams to the side.  I use the side up close to the tip, and try to get the whole seam at the same time- spreading out the pressure exerted by the iron.  This gives a gentle pressure along the seam and doesn't tend to distort the piece.  I also press both sides.  I start with the wrong side up and then I turn it over and press the right side up.  When pressing seams to the side, I tug JUST A LITTLE on the fabric to put a tiny little bit of stress on the seams and get them nice and flat.  DON'T read that as "pulling hard or yanking on the fabric".  Really.... just a tiny little bit of tension on the fabric to open it up and avoid a crease at the seam. I don't have my left hand in the picture pulling it for 2 reasons.  I didn't want anyone to see a picture of me pulling the fabric and think I want them to stretch the fabric out.  It's hard to show "gentle" in a picture.  The other reason is that I was holding the camera in my left hand. :-) 

I generally use steam.  If the iron has several steam settings, I generally use light steam.  And I like Best Press.

And we're back to my arcs.  I'm working on the black ones- almost finished.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I spent the last few days working hard in my shop and working on making the Double Wedding Ring quilt with my new AccuQuilt GO!  I forgot to take my camera to the shop today so pics will have to wait another day.  (My bad!)

So I thought I'd inject a heart warming story to make you go, "Awwwwww....".  I saw this on a blog today.  I have so many wonderful new followers, thanks to the giveaway!  I've been trying to scan through their blogs to take a peek at what they are doing. Quiltluver had this story on her blog and it caught my eye (and my heart).  I did a web search for the story and found many references to it.  The following is excerpted from

"Michigan State Police Trooper Deanne Oswald-DeBottis was dispatched at about 7:50 a.m. to eastbound Interstate 96, just east of U.S. 23, for a report of a large dog running in traffic.“The dog was running westbound in the I-96 eastbound lanes from Kensington Road and was stopped at U.S. 23 — almost three miles away,” Sgt. Mark Thompson said.
Motorists were swerving to avoid the dog while some stopped and attempted to get the dog off the expressway.
Oswald-DeBottis was able to position her patrol car in the center lane between two private vehicles, and she was able to coax the dog to her. She then used a “welch hitch,” a rope with a loop on one end and a clip on the other, to secure the dog, which was frightened, exhausted and had all paws injured and bleeding.
A passer-by stopped and assisted the trooper by retrieving an emergency medical blanket from her patrol car.
Livingston County Animal Control Officer Wayne Templeton arrived at the scene and took the dog into protective custody.
Templeton said the dog had “significant injuries” to its paws from running on the roadway. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian for treatment."

Now look at the picture again,  You're going, "Awwww...", aren't you? We hear so many bad news stories.  This shows another side of the variety of situations that law enforcement officers handle every day.  I appreciate that the press covered this story.

By the way, Quiltlover, I'm working on a Double Wedding Ring and my all time favorite pattern is the New York Beauty.  I see you have both of them on your UFO list, so I'll be watching.......

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Change Can be a Very Good Thing!

Change can be a lot of things.  Right now--- I'm doin' the Happy Dance because I'm making some changes to my website that are VERY EXCITING!

My wonderful web designer (we'll just call him Amazing John) is doing some upgrades for us.  DH and I met with him a few weeks ago and talked about some enhancements we'd like to see on the website.  The changes will be put in place over the next few weeks, but the first one happened today.  (Me, doing a little twirl).

Previously, The Alderwood Quilts website has been set up such that we only offered full yards of fabric.  You could always contact me and ask for partial yard cuts, but most people didn't do that.  Now, when you view a particular fabric, you can select the quantity you want in increments of 1/4 yards.  Not only that, but he has also put the option in there for people to select Fat Quarters.  AND... the Fat Quarters are priced the same as a regular 1/4 yard cut- no additional cutting/folding fee for FQ's.  Woo Hoo!!!

It looks like this.....

This is something that customers have been requesting and I'm pleased to be able to offer it now!

More changes to come, and I'm still cutting Double Wedding Ring pieces.  I took a little trip to the beach over the weekend and slacked off on my projects.  And today, we are having beautiful weather, so I just can't resist spending some time in the lavender field.  They're threatening frost this week so I want to clean the plants up a bit and put them to bed for the winter.  I'll be sewing bunches this week....

Thanks to all who have entered the giveaway.  I have read all of your comments and I am thrilled to have so many new readers and followers.  WELCOME!