Sunday, November 24, 2013

Quilt sampler in it's third week ... and goings on ...

Wednesday was our third class and we tackled 3 new patterns ... Hrmmmppph! I can't recall their names and just discovered that I left my book in the car. I don't feel like going out to get it because it's 10:20 pm and 10 degrees outside. It's all toasty in here; why spoil a good thing? I'll post the pattern names tomorrow.

Two of the patterns are slightly higher on the challenge scale. Feeling pretty good about the modified 9-patch square (hey, I think that's what it's called after all!), but the star (not the correct name) needs practice. I would have put the seam ripper to use and re-done a few of the connections but teacher advised against it, so they remain in place to remind me of the tricky bits.

The third new square was a piece of cake and it's become the vehicle for my 'signature' in this quilt. It contains the image of a bird.

Continuing to play around with placements as I add new blocks.

No walks last week as I'm back in painting mode. Most relieved and happy to report that the bulk of the painting is now done; I tackled my own room last week. Color scheme:

The prior owner's daughter painted a mural behind the door of what's now my room when she was the occupant and I've decided to keep it. I think it's a charming work of art and it melds in nicely with my new paint colors.

The office is now in a corner of the old bird's room. The loom is in there, and so is the harpsichord but that is just temporary. It will end up in my room by the end of next week. For the time being the spare bed will be a futon. When I can scrounge up the money I'd like to install a murphy bed.

I was planning to warp the loom for my stair treads today but ran out of time. That's OK because I took the afternoon to attend a wonderful concert in Plymouth by the New Hampshire Master Chorale. They do great work. You may recall I heard them perform Bach's Mass in B minor earlier this year, which was splendid. They did not disappoint this afternoon either. The program opened with Arva Part's Te Deum, a stunning piece and I leave a link to a Youtube performance here at the bottom. Sit back and enjoy. The concert featured projected photography by NH artist Christopher M. Georgia. How very special. He gave a lecture on his work before the concert began. He specializes in night time photography. Beautiful work. There's a video on his site worth watching.

A beautiful and fulfilling afternoon.

Me in the walking hat, and other poses ...

The hat in use on this rather chilly (18 degree) morning, not too long after getting out of bed. On my way out to fetch some much needed wood for the stove. Looks like the veil of sleep hasn't entirely lifted!

The stove is now lit and the cozy warmth is finding it's way around. The house stays quite comfortable while the embers glow, the stove heating both the main and second floors of the house. I have the oil set at 56 and it must come on over night because when I awake in the mornings, although it's chilly, it's not really cold.

My dear friend Bobbie (Distinctive Garden Designs), a landscape designer and daylily hybridizer from Cape Ann (whose garden is drop dead gorgeous!!) stopped by to visit this week and she snapped several pictures of dear old moi. Here are a few:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Quilt sampler ... week two ...

In this week's class we made our nine-patch blocks. Still to go are nine-patch variations, log cabin, square dance, friendship star, and flying geese blocks.

I'm continuing to play around with placement, seeing how different arrangements change the overall look. When it came to picking out fabrics, it was suggested that we look into batiks, but since I just made Triple Around The World in batiks I strayed. Besides, this sampler will have several different block patterns in it and I want to highlight the patterns, so I picked strong--mostly solid--colors. Batiks, to my inexperienced eye, would meld the whole into less discernible patterns.

One of the arrangements I like so far:

Of course nothing is definite until all the blocks are constructed.

I need a new knitting project! What will it be?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A walking hat ...

Some of the "walking yarn" has ended up in a hat I can wear while walking and spinning more walking yarn. :)

The band of color is wool I dyed and spun a few years ago. If I recall correctly I gave it the name "Mountain Sunset". Handpainted with acid dyes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Afternoon walk ...

It was lovely and invigorating to walk in the cool temps today. The feel and smell of it reminded me of my youth.

For the record, this was this morning's view from the dining room. The picture says it all:

I spent the day puttering around taking care of odds and ends, including some mending of a few woolens that the moths had taken for snacks.

Lovely day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

This, that, and a hat ...

Returned from my NY visit last night. It was a good trip with the exception of the traffic coming out of NY. I didn't account for Friday evening being the time when masses of people exit the city for the weekend. A couple of crawls added 30-40 minutes to the length of my trip. Obnoxious drivers were out in force last night as well, or so it seemed -- there's always a few isn't there?

Zuccotti Park in NY (site of the infamous Occupy Wall Street protest a few years back) is only a few blocks north from the office and it was looking very splendid yesterday. The twinkling lights and the autumn leaves were quite a treat for the eyes. (Lights are more visible when the picture is enlarged. Click to enlarge.)

Before the trip I finished the fingerless mitts. I quite like them, what's not to love about Noro? They'll go well with my rainbow scarf and travelling rib hat.

New on the needles is my "walking yarn" which is knitting up into a hat. I think it's going to be a nice warm toque.

Just started it this afternoon. Unlike most hats I've knit, this one is knit flat and then stitched up the back. I was thinking about it earlier and this strikes me as a good idea. Here's why: Knit hats can stretch to the point where they are too lose to don with comfort and style. I have a hat I spun and knit in-the-round with Targhee wool and it has stretched too much. Just about my only recourse now is to weave some elastic thread into the brim, but I'm not keen on that idea although I've done it on sweater cuffs and hems. A hat that is seamed up the back, on the other hand, can be unsewn and taken in to fit again. Yes, I think that's a good idea.

Can I rant a bit here? Thank you. I'm knitting this hat from a pattern which comes from a reputable source and I'm flabbergasted at how badly the instructions are written up. The gauge stipulates 6 rows = 1'. Well obviously that's a typo and it should be inches, not feet. OK. However, right at the outset the pattern calls for 1 foundation row followed by 7 repeats, and says that these 8 rows should make 1". Well that's a contradiction isn't it? Are we to believe the gauge at 6 rows = 1" or the pattern which reads 8 rows = 1"? Good question. Additionally, the pattern calls for size 6 US needles but it doesn't specify mm's. So I had to choose between 4.0 mm and 4.25 mm. I opted for the 4.0 mm and knit my own swatch and recalculated the number of stitches required to fit my head. I cannot fathom why some patterns are so miserably written! End of rant.

This morning I finished my homework for the quilt sampler that we are making in class. This week's assignment was to cut and sew the 8 "rail fence" blocks. Then I played around with arranging them for their place in the final quilt which will have a total of 25 blocks of various patterns. Quite a lot of fun.

I was given a small scrap of fabric by a kind and generous classmate after I mentioned how much I loved the pattern. It's a blue chintz with birds, how could I not love it? I'm going to incorporate one of the birds somewhere in the sampler. :) (For the fun of it sometime, Google "chintz" images for a bit of eye candy!)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Spectrum ...

Woohee! HooHa! and Hurray! The rainbow scarf is done. My goodness, that was a long knit. Fine yarn and small needles slows time down. It's been about a year since I bought the wool at the NY Sheep & Wool Festival.

To be fair, there were pauses before and after the time I spun it up, and then there was the interruption from the move. Oh, I don't care! It's done, and it was fun! And a fine result in my opinion.

In this view of being blocked the color gradations are clear. A beautiful dye job. When I have enough time (retirement?) I shall turn to the dye pot myself.

Since it's nice to have something on the needles, I'm currently making up some fingerless mitts. Quite the contrast to the scarf: These things knit up in no time. Can get a pair done in a few hours. The yarn is Noro.

In other news, tomorrow is the start of my new quilting class. Excited about that. Thursday I'll be heading to NYC for the monthly check-in and I'll be driving back Friday night.

Today I bought paint for my bedroom and plan to work on it next week. Golly, that will just about wrap up the paint works for the time being! Happy, happy! :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Around the world ...

I took the weekend off from priming and painting. A nice relief.

My neighbors came over yesterday morning and we got the loom moved upstairs as well as the harpsichord. There is now room to stretch one's legs in the music room and living room. Much better. Spent a couple hours in an intense and wonderfully productive piano practice later in the afternoon. High temps above 60 gave the day a positively balmy feel.

Not today. Had the wood stove going almost all day--and it really heats the house nicely. Outside temps in the 30s. It still makes me really, really nervous to leave the house when it's on, but I'll get used to that. It was wonderful to sit at the dining room table this afternoon working on the quilt with the warm radiance of the hearth embracing the room. Sure is romantic. Not such a bad toil either. Of course I'm not chopping my own trees and splitting my own logs, that would indeed add considerable to the effort. Simply stoking the fire isn't so bad.

The new quilting class starts Wednesday and I got my Triple Around The World top just about finished today. Good timing. I have to add 3 borders, sew on the backing and padding, and tie it up. I think I'm going to use a wool padding so it'll be of use in the winter months. At the moment I'm thinking I won't attempt keeping the fire going all night long--at least not until I gain the experience necessary--I'll simply re-start it in the mornings. The thermostat will be set around 54 so if it gets extremely cold the oil will kick in and keep the vital parts of the house going. I'll be quite cozy under my blankets and quilts.

My idea of placing a little bird in the middle of the quilt has worked out I think. It rather tickles me to have it there. I'm thinking that perhaps a little bird in each quilt I make will be my signature.

Here it is without it's 3 borders. I'm mightly pleased with the results. It has an old fashioned kind of look to it. Rather reminds me of Christmas candy. The squares around the bird may appear a little puffy: I haven't yet pressed the seams around the center strip.