I knit these socks for my niece’s stepdaughter who’s studying biomedical engineering at university. She wears a size 9 shoe – people always think it odd when I ask their shoe size – but that’s how I know how long to make the foot of a sock. I checked my sock stash and I did have a couple of pairs of socks that would have fit her, but they were rather dull, more suitable for a man (men generally prefer sedate socks rather than bright ones – except for one of my brothers-in-law who has a collection of quite wild socks – two drawers worth, I understand, although I’ve never seen them except when he’s wearing a pair). So I looked through my sock yarn, chose what looked like a bright yarn and started knitting.
I finished the socks three days ago. Put them in the mail straight away. They should arrive by the middle of next week.
Is it a week ago? Two weeks? I can’t remember, exactly. I took a drive on a sunny Sunday toward “the valley” with a friend. We moseyed our way along until we reached Wolfville. We browsed in some shops, Marie bought some summer tops in one. I came across a Talbot’s embroidered white shirt (size M) in a second hand shop that shouted “heritage nightgown” so I bought it (hoping size M would actually fit across my chest – holding it against my body it looked as if it would).
Without trying the shirt on first, (how silly was that) I cut off the ruffled neck and replaced it with a binding, cut the sleeves shorter and hemmed them, then trimmed away the bottom of the shirt intending to add a long “skirt” to complete the nightgown.
I finished the nightgown yesterday. My reconstruction was focused on salvaging the entire embroidery. A mistake. The shirt had bust darts which pointed toward the flower in the middle of the embroidery. In my attempt to keep the embroidery intact I cut below the darts. I should have bitten the bullet, cut above the darts and across the embroidery – the finished garment would have fit better.
As it is, I wore the nightgown last night and it’s reasonably comfortable even though the embroidered “yoke” comes too low and hits the fullness of my bosom rather than sitting at underarm depth. Given the density of the embroidery I’m not sure how I would actually have cut it – no easy way to fussy cut across it and have it make any sense.
The gown is not a write-off. I’ve added it to my collection and will wear it in rotation with the others in the drawer. And it cost me $28 rather than the $120 at one of the clothing stores we visited which had some April Cornell nightgowns for sale.
Do the photos ever show up the imperfections! You can see the back strip isn’t perfectly horizontal; there are wobbles in the layout of the quilt top. None of this is obvious when you’re looking at the quilt draped on the bed, however. I know nobody looking at it will notice any of what I see.
The quilting I set up as an edge-to-edge design, working in the width of the strips – the embroidery for the animals was one width, the embroidery for the blocks was narrower – again, that something I can see but nobody else will notice.
I finally “mastered” precise positioning while I was working on the quilting. After all this time, I discovered how to set the opening (pivot) stitch and how to rotate the design a smidgeon so the embroidery would end up in the right spot for me to begin the next. This is the best edge-to-edge work I’ve done. I managed to align the start needle position with the finish needle position of the previous stitch out each time. What made this quilting relatively easy is that I didn’t have to worry about nesting the embroideries – I’ve done that a couple of times in the past – a lot of math and measuring to make that work. Here, all I had to do was centre the embroidery in each strip.
I completed the quilt with a folded French binding using 2 1/2″ strips. What I learned (having never bound a quilt like this before) is that if I wanted a 5/8″ binding front and back, I’d need to cut my strips 3 3/4″ wide. Here, I attached the binding with a 1/4″ seam, folded it over so I would end up with close to 5/8″on the front. I stitched the binding in place with a decorative stitch at the very edge of the binding. Because the binding was attached on the back with a 1/4″ seam allowance, the binding in the back ends up at just under 3/8″ wide and the decorative stitching is inside and separate from the narrow binding. I probably won’t finish a quilt like this again – I’ll go back to using the binding open rather than folded and finish both front and back at 5/8″.
I learn something with each new project.
Sunday, March 12 2023
Bernie had questions about the decorative stitch I used to bind the quilt. Here’s what it looks like on the top of the quilt (binding a smidgeon less than 5/8″); and on the quilt back (binding 3/8″ wide). [To have a 5/8″ folded binding top and back would need a binding of 3 3/4″!] The stitch is an edited version of one of the standard quilting stitches on my Pfaff Creative Icon 2.
From start to finish the quilt took me 10 days. I just finished hand sewing on a label on the quilt back.
I bought this crazy animal fabric before Christmas on sale. I figured I’d be able to do something with it, whether I cut the strips into blocks or used them intact in some way. I had two layer cakes of mottled background fabrics, I chose the colours from the animal strips, cut the 10″ squares into 5″ squares and assembled them somewhat randomly.
I was going to cut the remaining 5″ blocks into 2 1/2″ rectangles for a border, but the top is definitely large enough as it is. I wasn’t going to do anything on the back side but I still have one strip of the animals left along with two stacks of the 5″ squares so I will assemble them and incorporate them into the second side. I’ll never use this fabric for anything else so I might as well use up as much of it as I can.
I’m planning a dark grey backing fabric. I’ll bind the quilt with it as well which will give definition to the quilt top which it doesn’t have at the moment.
It’s a lovely sunny day today. Time to get showered and dressed. Going for a drive in the countryside to enjoy the rest of the day!
I started working on this quilt around Jan 22. It’s gone more slowly than some quilts because there were decisions along the way I found difficult to make – but I completed it last night. Yesterday I finished quilting the wide outer border, added the facing/hidden binding and hand sewed it on the back. Label added last.
I’ve tentatively called the quilt “Planets with Moons”. The finished dimensions: 49 1/2″ wide by 68″ long – a rather large throw, a bit too long to hang on a wall unless you have rather high ceilings. It certainly is a good length if you’re a tall person!
I’m particularly pleased with the back strip. In fact, I’m thinking I might do an entire quilt based on that idea – a 6″ drunkard’s path block attached to two 3″ drunkard’s path blocks. The resulting oval shape is interesting. I wonder what it would look like if I limited my colour palette to two colours (blending various shades). Something to think about.
Quilting the project was somewhat complicated. I started by setting up a circular embroidery to fill the individual large circles and quilted them all. Next I had to design an embroidery to fill half the background square (I could only embroider two sections at a time (either left two or right two) because of the hoops I have. Filling the background took three days – a total of 35 embroidery repeats. Then I decided to adapt the circular embroidery into a long narrow element for the border. That left a small corner embroidery which I added to finish each corner.
The challenge with quitting in the hoop is getting the embroideries to line up and join. Lots of math involved in trying to position and adjust the size of each embroidery so the stitching is precisely where you want it (my Pfaff Creative Icon 2 has a “precise positioning” capability which makes quilting in the hoop possible). I did “touch” the large circles in a few spots but for the most part I managed to avoid crossing the circle/square boundary. I stitched both sides of the narrow batik sashing in the ditch but chose not to add a quilting to that element, it was narrow enough that it didn’t require quilting.
With this quilt now done, I can put it in the pile for the Art Labs showing in the summer. I will hang it with several other quilts I’ve made using Drunkard’s Path, showcasing the technique as an artistic choice. The other grouping I have ready includes three “Convergence” quilts. So far, then, I have seven quilts set aside for that show. I will now turn to working on smaller wall art pieces, including a set of 6″ x 6″ which I’ll show at Art Labs, but they’ll really be for next December in Tatamagouche!
It’s being able to show my art that keeps me working at it. There’s always some time pressure – keeping in mind how much I need to actually produce for a show to work. Fortunately, I don’t need all new pieces for each show, I’m able to show older pieces along with a few newer ones which creates a new context for each piece.
Carefully examine the work and the decisions in this example of Bisa Butler’s textile art. [Detail of “If I Ruled The World, Imagine That” (2022), cotton, silk, wool, metallic brocade, and velvet, quilted and appliquéd, 102 x 51 inches].
This complete piece is large 102″ x 51″ – the width of a king size bedspread and 2/3 the height. This portrait is one section of it and still you can see how amazing her decisions are regarding colour pattern and background!
As much as I enjoy creating image wall art, I can’t begin to think in the manner and scale that Butler does – notice the roller skates on the pants, the hair, and glasses frames, the shadowing on the vest, the detail on his hat. Her wild choices of fabric, her amazingly done appliqué work, the juxtaposition of patterns are simply wonderful. My works are small – hers are massive!
After doing the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, repairing a small hole in a cashmere/merino knit sweater, putting last night’s dishes in the dishwasher, reading email, making the bed, shower and dressing, having breakfast (late as usual), I finally got to the Drunkard’s Path blocks. I sewed all 24 small ones, as well as the remaining nine large ones.
I assembled the blocks into rows: one large block, two small ones. The centres of the small blocks are leftovers from the grey “L” shaped pieces used to make the blocks on the top. I used scraps from my many boxes of different sized scraps to cut out 3 1/2″ squares from which I removed the quarter circle corner (with the help of an acrylic template of the appropriate size).
3 1/2″ Drunkard’s Path blocks are actually difficult to sew! I pin the centres together, then try pinning the ends, but because the fabric pieces are small it’s hard to twist the ends into place, pin them, keep the ends aligned when you start sewing. The curve is also difficult because there is very little maneuvering room. It’s all about pressing and trimming after sewing and not using the blocks in sets of four to make circles because quite likely the curves won’t align nicely. So I chose to offset the curves of the small blocks against the large one, although I aligned one curved edge against the larger block’s curve and trimmed the resulting row so I’d have a straight edge when I attached the next row.
Ten rows weren’t quite enough. I used up the leftover six blocks – three at each end, and finished with a piece of grey fabric that is going to be the inner sashing. My strip is 3″ longer than the quilt top – enough to let me set up the sandwich with the backing larger than the top all the way around.
I’ve cut the sashing and the backing to length. I need to make joins in the sashing so they are long enough and I need to spray starch (with Best Press) the backing fabric making sure all wrinkles are out of it when I go to set up the sandwich.
Tomorrow afternoon I should be able to finish the backing and set up the quilt for quilting!
I’ve been stuck this week on the Drunkard’s Path quilt. I went through my stash and although I have several large pieces of grey fabric the colour or patterns just weren’t right for what I’d done with the quilt top. So I went shopping for more fabric! Here I am trying to work from the stash (to use up some of it) and my artistic sensibility says I need to go shopping.
I bought two metres of a grey print fabric during the week, but I still couldn’t get to work – something was stopping me. I did cut out the elements for twenty 3 1/2″ Drunkard’s Path blocks as well as ten 6 1/2″ blocks with the intention of combining them in some way and I began sewing the blocks together but I’ve not made much headway.
Today I took a “vacation” day with a friend. We drove to Mahone Bay (an hour away from Halifax) – a lovely sunny day (if chilly) – the roads were a mess mid-morning when we left (from the freezing rain and snow we had last night). On our way back we stopped at Heidi Wulfraat’s Woolworks shop to look at fabric. She carries the complete Free Spirit line of fabrics. I love seeing the entire collection. I happened on a grey batik, however, which suddenly explained my inaction – I just wasn’t happy with the other backing fabric I bought!
On the left is the first backing fabric (light grey with dark crosshatchings) I bought earlier in the week – it’s now going into the stash – it will be perfect for some other quilt, just not this one. The grey/white batik at the bottom of the pile above I bought today. The Drunkard’s Path block example is what I’m planning on doing for the strip to extend the width of the backing – with sashings from the darker grey and the teal batik.
Tomorrow, I am determined to sit down and finish both the large and small Drunkard’s Path blocks, add sashing and the backing!
I still don’t have a quilting embroidery – but once the quilt sandwich is assembled I should be able to some up with something suitable.
Patsy wondered whether I could fix holes in the feet of her socks. I’d have to see, I told her. Depends on the size and location of the holes. (These were socks she bought from me to give to her daughters, I thought, a couple of Christmases ago – looks like she kept a pair for herself! Well loved, I could see.)
Well, not only were there substantial holes in the ball of the foot, the heels were threadbare, as well. No point in trying to reknit the holes. Better to salvage the legs and reknit new feet.
I went to my leftover yarn stash to see whether I still had a ball of the original yarn tucked in there. No luck, didn’t find any. I did find another pattern that looked like it would complement the original pattern. I cut off the feet just at the start of the heel, and reknit new feet.
It takes 4-5 days to knit a length of leg – so 8-9 days, say, to knit a pair of legs. Half the job done. It’s worth my time and effort to salvage legs and knit new feet. She’ll get another couple of years wear from these like-new socks.
The match between the two socks isn’t absolutely perfect, but close enough that if I didn’t mention it, I’m not sure Patsy would even notice the discrepancy.
Here it is (for now). Today, I added a narrow batik inner border and a wider grey print outer border, both with mitred corners. Two things: the dark batik, which has sort of circular shapes, echoes the colours in the circles (Planets). The medium grey (with a darker grey print) blends the background elements.
The only uncertainty here are the small “Moons” bleeding into the borders (pinned in place). I definitely intend having them, the question is do I have enough or are there too many? Are they in the right places? I still have some somewhat larger ones – I tried a couple but they were too strong.
I spent most of my morning working with ideas for quilting the top. The finished circular block (made from 4 individual blocks) is 300mm x 300mm. I have a 260mm x 260mm hoop which will let me embroider a circular design that will fit within the circles (which are 250mm in diameter). However, the background presents a problem. I can stitch-in-the-ditch around each block element but I feel I still have to fill each corner with something. I could do that as separate embroideries – two blocks at a time, using a 360mm x 200mm hoop. I could also try creating a design that will embroider in the 360 x 350 hoop (the reversible hoop) but that hoop presents unique challenges because trying to match any line that crosses the midline is very tricky. When I’ve used that Grand Dream hoop in the past I’ve made sure the design elements come to the centre but not across it. The circles make that difficult to do. It’s a problem I still have to sleep on.
My next step is to make a final decision about the small “Moons”, fuse them in place, and edge stitch them. While I’m doing that, I have to come up with something for the quilt back. I don’t have enough of the grey border fabric to do a pieced back with that fabric alone – although I can use it along with other fabrics. I still have 7 unsewn Drunkard’s Path blocks and a bunch of smaller grey quarter circle elements I can add to the collection.