Monday, May 21, 2018

A Mini Makeover

I gave my blog a mini makeover. I realized that my header and the photos in it are all at least 4 years old. So, I updated the header with more current photos. 
What do you think about it?

I don't get many comments but I am getting about 10,000 views a month. That is encouragement enough to keep blogging. I do like that it is a great way for me to keep track of my creative life.

And since no blog post should be without a photo, here's one of a few clutch bags that I made to gift to friends at retreat last month.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Paloma Cardigan

I finished knitting the Paloma Cardigan a few weeks ago and was able to wear it a few times before the weather gets too warm. This cardigan knit with bulky weight yarn was very easy to knit. The pattern was well written and easy to follow. My only problem came when I had to pick up stitches along the front band and knit it without it being too lose or too tight. It took me three tries but I finally got it right.

I thought the knit one, purl one pattern would drive me crazy but in reality, once I got a rhythm going, it went smoothly and fast. It took me about one month to knit the sweater. One of my favorite features of this pattern is the pockets.

This sweater is knit from the bottom up in individual pieces and then sewn together like a garment. The pattern says to block the pieces before using a mattress stitch to sew them together. I don't have  blocking mats so I got creative and used my design wall to block them after using my steamer to dampen them and ease them into shape.

When the sweater was finally sewn together and I tried it on it was a little too big and sloppy looking, so I took a chance and threw it in the washing machine and washed it on the gentle cycle. It got just a little "felted" but I actually like it and the fit is now perfect!

I found the perfect buttons at a local fabric store and they were just what I think makes the sweater a beautifully finished garment. I am just so pleased with the way it turned out.

JHB Buttons

Given the opportunity of cold weather I can assure you I will be wearing this sweater a lot.
O-Wool Yarn, Paloma Cardigan
I took the cardigan to Wisconsin with me a few weeks ago when I went to the Stitch Supply Company/Stash Sewciety retreat. It was a cozy and comfy piece on the plane and in the cool of the mornings while I was there. It is now packed away in a moth proof bag to protect it until the weather turns cool again.

I always say I learned how to knit by watching YouTube videos. That is not 100% true, because my mom's friend taught me to knit and purl when I was a child. All the extra techniques that I needed to learn for this cardigan, I learned on YouTube. 
New techniques I used to complete this sweater:
*Cable Cast-On
*One Row Buttonholes with 2-Stitch Holes
*Three Needle Bind-Off
*Mattress Stitch

Sweater Stats:

Needles:Addi Natura Bamboo 16" circular size US 10
              Addi Natura Bamboo 32" circular size US 10
              Addi Turbo 60" circular size US 10 
Buttons: JHB 1-1/8" Wooden Button

Monday, April 30, 2018

Picnic in July...a Stash Sewciety Bee Quilt

Last Summer, when it was my turn to be queen in the Stash Sewciety Bee, I chose a random theme of stars and asked my bee mates to make one 12 inch star block and then four of any other block they wanted to make; it didn't have to be a star. My color palette was made from this photo I saw on Design Seeds. 

I pulled a great selection of fabrics from my stash.

Here are some of the blocks I made as starters so my bee mates would know what I was after.

The women of my bee made so many beautiful blocks. I had fun arranging all of them.

bee quilt

Here's the finished quilt. I'm excited to be taking it with me to Wisconsin this week. I'll be with a lot of the women who contributed to making this quilt as we retreat at our annual Stitch Supply Retreat. I can't wait.

diane stanley sews

stash sewciety bee quilt

I sent the quilt top to Crinklelove so she could work her magic on the quilt. I chose Summer Buzz for an all over motif and it's so cute. It has flowers, leaves and bees buzzing all over the quilt.

picnic quilt

My friend, Melissa, sent me a fat quarter of the most perfect fabric. It has all the right colors that I had asked for so I ordered it for the backing for the quilt. A mini stripe by Riley Blake makes the perfect binding to bring the whole quilt together. 

Quilt Stats:
Quilt Name: Picnic in July
Quilt Pattern: A variety and beautiful assortment of stars and random blocks
Fabric: from stash and bee mates
Backing: Sevenberry print
Batting: Warm and White
Binding: Riley Blake Stripes in Navy
Size: after laundering 56" x 78"

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Let's Sew...a Blackwood Cardigan and the Elani Tunic

I have rediscovered my love for garment sewing. Over the last few years I have made a few garments after discovering some Indie pattern designers. This year, I pledged to the Ready to Wear Fast on Instagram. I admit to giving in to buying a few logo t-shirts but other than that and some shoes I’ve been really good at sticking to the fast. 
I upped my sewing game after I started listening to a new to me podcast called Love to Sew. I just love listening to Helen and Caroline. Their easy, relaxed style of interviewing and their lighthearted attitude keep me entertained. I’m all caught up with the available episodes and anxiously await the new episodes each week. They have inspired me to learn all I can to regain the skills I so carelessly tossed aside years ago. I have been discovering new pattern designers and online fabric shops. I'm not putting quilting aside, but I do love this new turn in my creative journey.
I really like Stylarc patterns. They are an Australian pattern designer with a lot of patterns to choose from. I have made several of their tops and a dress. Their patterns fit my body quite well, with only some minor adjustments.
This is the Elani Tunic. I cut a size 10 through the bust and shoulders and then graded it out through the hips to accommodate my short waist and fuller hips.
The fabric is a gorgeous Watercolor viscose print that I purchased from La Mercerie. It was my trickiest fabric to work with in a very long time but it came together beautifully and is very comfortable to wear. The soft, flowy drape of the fabric  and the length of the tunic will mean I can wear this top with jeans or leggings.

 stylarc elani tunic

stylarc elani tunic

Remember the Podcast I mentioned above? Well, Helen is one of the hosts and she has a few patterns that she has designed. This Blackwood Cardigan is one of them. I love it so much! This is the second one I have made and I have a third one cut and ready to sew. 
I purchased the charcoal  tweed  ponte fabric at Joann's Fabrics. It has a beautiful weight to it and looks dressy.
This was such a quick sew. Except for the top stitching, I used the overlocker machine to sew it together. My high school Home Ec teacher would be so happy because the inside looks just as good as the outside.

For this pattern I cut a size large through the shoulders, bust and sleeves (I shortened by one inch) and graded to an extra large through the hips. The fit is so perfect!

I really like the length of this cardigan. The pattern also has a shorter, cropped version available.

blackwood cardigan

The first Blackwood I made I omitted the pockets because the knit had a cable that I thought would be too hard to get perfect. For this one the knit fabric was a perfect weight to make the pockets and they I'm pleased with they way they finished. I'm glad I added them this time.

blackwood cardigan

This is the first Blackwood cardigan that I made. The fabric is a cable knit from Joann's. I love the navy color and I also bought it in cream to make another one. This one I cut a size medium through the bust and shoulders and graded to an extra large through the hips. This one was also completely sewn on the overlocker except the top stitching.
Now I have three very wearable pieces of clothing .

blackwood cardigan

I have a few other pieces of clothing to share. I'll be doing that soon because Me Made May is about to begin next week.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Jack is a Star

This quilt was so much fun to make in spite of the fact that mine did not turn out square. I let that error go because the fact that it's not perfectly square gives it a little more character...just like my grandson, for whom I made this quilt.

As Jack's 15th birthday was approaching I knew I wanted to make him a quilt. I had already made each of my grandchildren a quilt for their second birthday but monsters and puppy dogs have long been outgrown, so now it was time for a manly sized quilt for our six foot tall grandson.

March 2005

When I asked Jack what his favorite color was he said, "blue". But when I asked him what colors made him happy, he said "pink and yellow". Now that I had the color palette in mind I had to choose what fabrics to use.
I knew I wanted to make Victoria Findley Wolfe's Star Storm quilt for him and I also wanted to use fabric from my stash.  Some pieces used in the quilt call for 1-1/2 yard pieces. Pulling fabric from my stash proved to be a challenge because I usually don't buy more than 1/2 yard pieces so I had to get creative and luckily I managed to pull it off.
We found the perfect yellow wall to use as a backdrop for this quilt, while we were on a photo shoot a few weeks back.

star storm quilt

I started out quilting a different motif in each section of the star, then added a label with words quilted right into the star. No chance of this quilt losing it's label, that's for sure! I said a few nice things about Jack and then also quilted in the date," Happy Birthday", and the year it was made and by whom.

I finished quilting it with a wavy meander because I was getting bored and ran out of ideas. I was practicing my free motion quilting using prompts from Angela Walters while quilting this piece.

The backing is my favorite newsprint from Carrie Bloomston and the binding is a deep fuchsia from Cotton and Steel.

All the fabrics came together and the color palette is one that works well for this quilt. We'll be visiting our son and his family in a few weeks, so we can deliver the quilt in person. Although Jack's birthday was in March, he knows something is coming soon. I sure hope he likes his new quilt. 

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Star Storm by Victoria Findley Wolfe
Fabrics: all from Stash
Backing: Carrie Bloomston Story extra wide 
Binding: Cotton and Steel 

Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Pieced and quilted with Aurifil 50 wt.
Size: After laundering approximately 76" x 76"

Monday, April 16, 2018

Improv Stripes Quilt

I started this quilt after Annabella, my friend and fellow Stitch Tease Bee member, asked for improv stripe strips when it was her month to be queen in our bee. I had just finished making the Brick House Quilt and I didn't feel like folding all the fabrics and putting them away so I decided to make another quilt from the same fabric bundles. Talk about "killing two birds with one stone"...I was able to make two quilts from two fat quarter bundles AND I didn't have to fold fabric and reshelve it.  Here's a look at the Brick House quilt that I gifted to my friend, Greg, who lost his home in the Ventura Fires of November 2017. 

brick house quilt

And here's a look at the Improv Stripes quilt. They are very different but so similar because they are made of the same fabrics.
I cut random strips of a print and a solid and pieced them together and then cut apart and sewed the strips back together to create the improv blocks. Trimming and piecing them together was a fun project, trying to get a cohesive design was a little more challenging. 

improv stripes quilt

This was my first project to quilt on my new Juki QVP150 sewing machine. I'm still getting used to it's speed and what she likes. I did come up with a name for her. I am calling her Justine, after my godmother, who taught me so much about love and patience. I ran into a bit of a problem when I quilted several tucks into the quilt and had to rip out a lot of the stitches. That was not fun and I still ended up with a little bit of wonkiness in the finished quilt. But, after laundering it, it is hard to notice.
juki QVP150

For the backing I used this vintage postage stamp print from Clothworks. The colors seemed right and I have had it in my stash for several years waiting for the right quilt to use it on. For the binding I used a binding I had pre-made from my stash. 

We took the quilt to the City of Orange on a photo shoot. It was fun to hear the comments of the bike tourists as they drove by us. Some people gave nice comments and someone even asked how much I would sell it for! 

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:Improv Stripes
Fabric: Karen Lewis' Blueberry Park and Carolyn Friedlander solids for Robert Kaufman
Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt. and quilted with Perma Core Cotton in 40 wt. color Sheer Yellow
Backing:1930"s Airmail by Clothworks
Binding:Carolyn Friedlander Widescreen in Black
Quilted by me on my Juki QVP150
Finished SIze: 60" x 72"

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Fiddlehead Mittens

The temperature is expected to be in the 90"s here today in Yorba Linda. This is way to hot for April, even for Southern California standards. When Mr. Romance and I went on our photo shoot the other day I said I needed to go somewhere cold to take the photos of the mittens I just finished knitting. Where can you always find it cold? Well in an ice rink, ofcourse. So we headed to Glacial Gardens, where we spent many hours freezing our butts off (literally) while watching our two youngest boys play hockey. Evan still plays on a men's league, when time permits, but Kyle gave up his goalie stick for a water polo ball his last year in high school. 

fiddlehead mittens

I think these mittens are my very most favorite knitting finish of all time. The pattern for Fiddlehead Mittens caught my eye while I was searching on Ravelry. It is so well written and easy to follow. The pattern has lots of photos on Ravelry to get ideas for color combinations. I loved the fact that they also had a knitted lining. This will make them extra warm and I know I will appreciate that warmth next winter when we have a European river boat cruise planned to visit the Christmas markets in Germany, Austria and Hungary.

put a quilt on it tee shirt

I purchased the wool from Jimmy Beans Wool online shop. I couldn't decide if I liked knitting them on DPN's or a circular needle. Both options had their advantages but in the end knitting with a circular needle is almost always easier for me.

fiddlehead mittens

It was open skating time while we were at the rink. There were not many people on the ice so Paul was able to capture some fun photos while I was playing the role of the model.

Berroco ultra alpaca light yarn

All the yarn used was Alpaca, which makes the mittens super soft and squishy. The lining was made using a double strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

rowan kidsilk haze

This last photo was taken outside the rink with an advertisment used as the backdrop. I couldn't resist editing the photo and making it an advertisement for Fiddlehead Mittens. You should try making them. They are super fun and oh so pretty.

And for my boys (Evan and Kyle) might have thrown your hockey gloves on the ice a few's my ode to you using my Fiddlehead Mittens. 

Mitten Stats:
Pattern: Fiddlehead Mittens by Adrian Bizilia
Yarns used: Outer Mittens:
Berroco-Ultra Alpaca Light 4289 Charcoal Mix
                                              4294 Turquoise Mix
                                              42105 Eggplant
                                              4275 Pea Soup Mix
                                              4268 Candied Yam Mix
                                              4234 Cardinal
Lining:Rowan-Kidsilk Haze-597-Jelly
Needles:Knit Picks DPN's 5" Caspian Wood Double Point Needle Set size 3
Addi Turbo Clicks Size US 3-32" circular



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Orange Quilt in Orange

I have had several quilts finished, some for many months, just needing to be photographed so that I could document them here on my blog. This is my way to keep track of my production. I can't tell you how many times I refer back to my blog to know when something was made or to look for a recipe or a certain photo of a family event. Writing about my life on the blog has helped me to remember things and I think it will be a great tool for future generations. Blogging has already been such a positive tool for me and that is why I continue to blog, even though the posts are fewer and farther between these days.

This past weekend Mr. Romance and I went out for a photo shoot. I have four quilts and a pair of mittens to share with you. I will be sharing each in a separate blog post over the next several weeks. The first is a quilt I am calling The Orange Quilt. What is more appropriate for a photo shoot of an Orange quilt than in the city of Orange? 
One of the stops we thought we would find a good photo op was the train station. Just as the Angel's baseball car was approaching, Paul said we should hurry and try to get the train in the background. So he grabbed one of the quilts, barely threw the car into park, as he held up the quilt...only to hold up the backside of the quilt to the camera! Gotta love my helpful husband. Ha! Ha!

We did take this photo with the big Welcome to Orange sign in the background. The city of Orange is well known for it's historical involvement as a packing house for oranges. Back in the first half of the twentieth century all of Orange County was covered in orange groves. As more and more people flocked to the sunshine and beaches the orange groves were replaced by homes, businesses and freeways. Now we are one big traffic jam with way too many people.

I made this quilt top at the Stitch Supply Retreat, in Wisconsin, last May and then promptly folded it up when I got home and put it in the closet on the "to be quilted" pile.The pattern is an easy one by Suzy Quilts, called Hexie Stripe. All you need is to sew your fabric strips together and then have an equilateral triangle ruler. There is a lot of repetitive, busy work in making the quilt, but the result is a fun hexagon pattern. 
I sent the quilt to Crinklelove for some long arm quilting. 

hexie stripe quilt

The quilt top is made with all Carolyn Friedlander fabrics, so in keeping with that same theme I used one of her fabrics for the backing and the binding.

While squaring up the quilt and getting it ready to send off to be quilted I discovered I really liked the little off cuts so I made them into a pillow. 

Quilt Stats:
Quilt Name: An Orange Quilt in Orange
Fabric: All Carolyn Friedlander fabrics from my stash
Backing: Doe Wide by Carolyn Friedlander
Binding: Friedlander alphabet print in orange Cotton  Lawn
Batting: Warm and White
Quilted by Crinklelove
Size: 64" wide x 74" long