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Friday, February 28, 2014

Tutorial: Continuous Cable Border

This tutorial has been a long time coming. My apologies. It was back in November 2009 when my first was just a little one when I first showed this continuous cable border and I used it again for my sisters wedding present in August 2012. I have received so many e-mails asking for the pattern. Here is the pattern that I will leave up for the month of March on the blog before putting a PDF version it in my Etsy store. If you would like a PDF version of the pattern e-mailed to you during March - please let me know.

I haven't done much hand knitting for a longtime. My little bunnies are SO fascinated by knitting needles and the wonder of throwing a ball of yarn around - I can't tell you how many times I accidentally left the knitting within arm reach of one of them and they pulled the needles out! You would have thought I would have learnt after the first occurrence of needle pulling - but apparently not!

Continuous Cable Border Pattern

SKILL LEVEL:  Intermediate to Advanced. Clear understanding of knitting cables.
Once you have this concept down it can be applied to any sized knitted panel.

For these pictures and for the purposes of demonstrating this pattern I used: Eco Wool - Vanilla (# 8014) from Cascade.
My swatches are 30 stitches across & 40 stitches down – I used my Ultimate Sweater machine to knit these squares. You can also make a practice swatch by hand knitting.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: Week 7

This a sneak peak at a quilt I am making for the girls school as a fundraiser. The family who won the quilt requested a 'modern quilt, purple, with flowers'. I've been thinking for a while of what pattern to use for quilting.

Here is what I decided. It is from Doodle Quilting by Cheryl Malkowski - I love this book - it has such great ideas from practice to putting various elements together to make interesting designs.

Can you see it?

Here is the first corner. Not bad for first squiggles. I hope that the pattern will compliment the modernness of the quilt top.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Turn your Kids Art into Greeting Cards

I keep pretty much every piece of 'art' my little ones make. I was spring cleaning a little and going through all the kids art work trying to keep the most special pieces - as even by age 4 my drawers are overflowing with precious scribbles and blobs of paint.

I couldn't bring myself to throw away any of the art and this project has been in the back of my mind for a long long time.

This is an example of the sorts of pieces I have.

I cut it into 4" x 5.5" pieces. I used a rotary cutter & a ruler - but you could use scissors and cut the lines carefully. Once the pieces were cut I put them on a piece 5" x 6.5" of contact paper and then stuck it to a plain 5"x 6.5" card.

I think you could also cut interesting shapes or animals out also - but I stuck with the rectangles.

I got this pack of 50 plain cards from Michaels years ago. I still had 46 left.


Once the art work and contact paper had been added to these cards - they are surprisingly solid - and the contact paper adds a little bit of luxury to the cards. I think you could just use glue to stick the art to the cards - but I like the way the contact paper keeps the art nicely flat - no wrinkles.

Here is a sample of the 46 cards we made.

Our cards include crayon art, poster paint, watercolor, shaving foam paint, scrapper art ...

... water bead painting, rain art and finger painting!

I seriously LOVE them and I can't wait to put together little sets wrapped in ribbon and give them to Grandma for birthdays, mother's day and other such celebrations! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dairy of a Longarm: Week 6

I have purchased some micro handles which are supposed to help me with micro/up close work. I tend to try to do quite dense/detailed quilting. The micro handles are helpful - your hands are in more of a similar position to that of domestic machine quilting - although they do reduce your working space by a few inches as they take up a little room in front of the front bar. I have been trying out some new things I haven't done before - using the Welcome Baby Blankets that I am making for our church as my experimenting ground.

For this little quilt I used free hand straight lines. Straight lines on the longarm are surprisingly easy & quick. Mine are not perfect - but I've been coveting the look of plain lines for a long time and it was really satisfying to try it out. I added some whimsy detail in between some of the lines & some curves in the corner.

I added colored ribbon loops around the quilts because babies just love to explore the texture ribbons & labels and you can hang infant toys on them too.

For the next little quilt I broke the quilt surface up into 4 sections using a curved line. I quilted circles in one area, spirals in another, hearts in another and flowing lines in another. I like how breaking up the service brings an added interest to the quilt.

Looking forward to using more straight lines & dividing quilts by texture more in the future!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New York Metro Mod Quilters: Quilt Top

As I have mentioned this top came from my guild the New York Metro Mod Quilters. I haven't belonged to a quilting guild before - my teacher Teri had encouraged me to join one. At my first meeting I showed this memorial quilt. For some reason I thought that I would be flooded with ideas on how I could make it better, improved it, done it differently - but to my surprise people where SO kind about it. So kind my cheeks got pink.

I also mentioned I was getting a longarm and happy to practice on anything anyone wanted to give me. Perhaps a foolish offer as a few minutes later I had this quilt top in my arms. The backing material was also provided by the guild.

I have posted about this quilt before here and here. It has not been a happy relationship - and I felt I might pass out when I had eventually finished it. I felt everything could have been done better. Now it has been bound and washed I am able to look at it more fondly. Yes the quilting is not perfect enough to make me 100% happy - but it was great practice for me and I know the next piece will be better and more accurate because of the time I put into this top.

Every block is done is a different pattern - so that is 30 different patterns I got to try out on this piece. Here are some of my favorites.

This fan pattern was really pretty and surprisingly easy to do. 

This Sashiko Shell is from Day 10 of Leah Day's Free Motion Project. I was surprised by how much I liked the effect it gave.

Feathers into the corners.

Spirally fans. 

And this one - figure of eights - I know it is a well used, known pattern. I've seen it all over the place - but gosh did I struggle with this!! Funny how sometimes those things supposed to be easy & basic really challenge us at times. 

And here is the back - in pink tie dyed wonder! The block in the middle was handed in late so it was used as part of the back. I still need to practice improving the backs of my quilts. When ever I see people with quilt backs as pretty as the front I am jealous.  It will be something I'll be working hard on this year.

I'm excited to hand it back - but also terrified. I hope people will be kind. I'd probably give myself an A for effort on this piece with a C- for results .........

Monday, February 17, 2014

WIP: Kids Art Quilt: Fabric Building Blocks

My scrap bag has got utterly out of control - over flowing onto the floor and carpet - so I spent the weekend organizing scraps into colored bins and discovering little bits here. Separating pieces that I  can turn into speedy negative space filled quilts. I feel like since Freddie arrived I have become a little bit possessed and obsessed in thinking about quilts I can quickly make so that I can load and spend the majority of time quilting them. The more negative space the better!

For a while now I have had this idea of asking the girls to make a city out of wooden building blocks that I would then mimic in a patchwork pattern. But going through my scrap bag I realized that I could skip the building step and just give them the fabric - and they could lay out the blocks into a city themselves.

Here is the design that they came up with. My husband even commented on it (in a positive manner) as it lay on the floor - which means it must be cute. I plan to fuse & applique the design onto a backing and then quilt away on it.

We are currently having a debate with my middle bunny who insists that a large dolphin and teddy bear need to be included in the scene. We shall have to see how that request plays out ....


Our other kid painted fabric projects have included:
Kid painted Quilt - Spin Art

Friday, February 14, 2014

Memory Pillows: 9/11 Firefighters Memorial Quilt

It has been a while now since I presented the Memorial quilt I made for the only Fire Marshal to loose his life in 9/11. It was such a great project.

When I work with families on quilts I always keep every single scrap until I know what the families want to do with them. And by every last scrap I mean EVERY label, button, seam, tiny sliver - everything is kept together until I know what the families wishes are.

On this occasion the family asked for two small cushions - one for each of the grandchild.

I made two 15" cushions from mixing the left over t-shirt scraps with some regular polyfill. For the pillow covers I used the same material as the quilt - it is a cute pale yellow cotton polka dot. I took some larger scraps and cut some hearts out and quilted the front of the cushions in the same way that the quilt had been quilted (echoed lines.) The cushions are really sweet and will look super cute with the quilt.

The cushions weigh quite a bit due to their filling - it made me think about the weight of love - how heavily we can love people. My thoughts are with the family of the heroic Ron Bucca this valentines day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: End of Week 5

I've finished the guild quilt top and I don't know if I want to celebrate or faint.

Every block is quilted in a different design freehand. This taught me so much about what I find 'easy' and what I find 'impossible'. More on this quilt once it has been trimmed & bound.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kids Painted Quilt: Watercolor Circles

If you remember this project came about as a suggestion from Asia from Fun at Home with Kids.  Asia's site is my go-to if I am ever looking for fun activity to do with my little bunnies.

This quilt is so pretty. These photos do not show what a wonderful job my eldest bunny did (not that I am biased!) The colors are all soft and sherberty. They did spread - they are not perfect circles - but I do not care.

I had so much fun quilting it with a sort of free form McTavishing style. Here it is coming off the frame.

It is the sort of quilt you would curl up under while watching TV or lie on in the garden on a sunny afternoon. 


I used quite a few different colors of thread to try and highlight & define the different color splotches. You can see here the colors go from purple to blue to pink to green.

It was really interesting to me to see how the colors of the fabric paint interacted with the different colored threads. I have much to learn & experiment with - in how colored thread can bring out color, change color or blend perfectly.

I wonder what project ideas will come to us next. 

Technical Info:
Batting: Hobbs Wool Heirloom Batting
Backing Fabric: Scrap White on White prints
Top: Blue Fabrics: Recycled Sheet
Binding: Premium Quilt Colorbok Fabric - Dot Floral
Thread: Aurifil Mako Quilting Cotton - Natural White, Selection of Bottom Line threads by Superior & Fil-Tec Monofilament thread in bobbin

Monday, February 10, 2014

Diary of a Long Arm: Week 5

I reloaded the guild quilt top again. To say I am harboring a little bit of resentment towards this piece is a mild understatement. If you remember - last time I loaded this top I quilted for 30 mins and unpicked for over 5 hours. I was clear with the guild when I took the top that I wanted to practice and our President (Lisa Mason - check out her work) asked me if there was any particular pattern I would like to practice. Taking her question as though I have free reign to quilt what I please. I have kept the curved serpintine type lines on the diagonals but I used a really pretty grey/lilac thread by Superior So Fine # 50 - Milan Mauve instead of a variegated thread. I am simply fascinated by how the color of the thread changes dependent on the fabric underneath it (I'm totally obsessed by color but typically scared to use it.) I have decided to take this quilt one block at a time. Quilt a different design in each block - changing thread colors as I go.

I started with some echo shells. Wish me luck!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Diary of a Long Arm: Week 4 - McTavishing

Karen McTavish was actually the first person I saw using a longarm who's work captured my attention and made me think 'I want to do that'. Her work seems effortless, organic and flowing. My dream would be to become a quilter of this standard - maybe after 20 years of practice? I've been practising McTavishing on our latest Kid Painted Art Quilt - Watercolor Circles. It was such a fun piece to quilt - I just went for it. I've now become obsessed with negative space in quilts!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Free Motion Quilting Pattern: Octopus Flower

This is a quick guide on how to make the Octopus Flower pattern that I used on this Memorial Quilt made from a ladies shirts. My apologies in advance for such poor quality in the following photos.

1) Make a medium/large swirl.

2) Travel back between the lines of the swirl.

3) Make smaller swirls (approx 8) around the outside of your bigger central swirl.

4) Echo around the outside of the smaller swirls & echo travel to a place where you can start your next big swirl for the next octopus flower.

 5) Keep swirling & echoing. It doesn't matter if each Octopus Flower has 8 swirls or not.

Have fun. It is a really easy pattern to use and travel around the quilt with. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: End of Week 3 - Unpicking stitches is not fun

This is a quilt top that I got from my guild (NYC Metro MOD Quilters) to quilt. Stuck for ideas and inspiration I asked a couple of members for ideas.

Everyone liked the idea of curved lines and variegated thread. I have not kept it a secret that I struggle with color. I really want to use color more and get more comfortable with it and hone skills to enhance pieces of work with colored thread. Game to try the variegated thread on this piece I quilted for maybe 20-30 mins (you really do cover ground very quickly with these machines.) I didn't like it at all. 

5+hrs of unpicking later ........

I still haven't got the courage to reload the piece and try again.