Drunkard’s Path – Top (Almost) Finished

Almost Finished Quilt Top

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.

The quilt back is still percolating.

Drunkard’s Path – Edge Stitching Done

Moons & Planets

I just finished the decorative edge stitching on all the small circle appliqués. Slowly and carefully – using 50wt rayon embroidery thread (top and bottom).

In these detail photos you get a sense of the decorative stitching done along the circumference of each small circle. I used a silver grey thread for all the grey circles, and blended in a complementary thread for each coloured block.

Next comes borders.

Drunkard’s Path – Latest Iteration

Latest Iteration

Last night I added fusible web to the back of 9 grey fabric strips, then cut out circles of varying sizes from each. I placed them on the panel, then decided I did need a wee bit of colour against the grey so I added just a few coloured circles in the background. I’ve pinned the circles in place; next I need to press them, then edge stitch using decorative stitches with contrasting thread.

The addition of the small circles pushes the large circles back, foregrounding the small circles. I’m hoping the addition of the bright narrow inner border with a wider outside medium grey will stabilize the whole panel. I’m also thinking I might add just one or two small circles through the borders as well – we’ll see.

Movin’ right along.

More Socks

Blue Socks

Not much to say here. Just another pair of socks. These have a home already. My friend Patsy has a friend who is willing to buy a pair of hand-knit socks. She wears a size 7 shoe so I’ve made the foot on these a wee bit smaller than I would normally hoping they’ll fit without having to shorten them for her. I’ll send them via Patsy when I’ve finished adding new feet to a pair of well-worn socks of hers.

Legs Salvaged With New Heels

I cut off the worn feet, picked up stitches on the legs, knit new heels on each. Last night I knit the gusset on one of the socks then spliced in another variegated yarn – sort of close to this pattern. I don’t seem to have any leftover from this particular ball of yarn so I’m using whatever I have. There’s enough yarn in the ball to knit two feet but I’m not sure I can get the two feet to match. They’ll be inside her shoes so I’m not worried about any mismatch that happens.

Drunkard’s Path – Panel Assembled

Assembled Panel

With a healthy amount of rearranging of blocks I finally settled on this array and sewed the panel together. It always surprises me how different everything looks when it’s all sewn together. The joins are not perfect but they’re more than passable – always an accomplishment when sewing curves that have to join on the circumference. I’m also happy with the distribution of the grey background colour flow.

My next idea is to appliqué smaller grey circles (in three different sizes) randomly on top of these circles to break up the regularity of it all. I’ve selected 10 of the greys I used in the background, I cut 4″ x 15″ strips, now I have to apply fusible web (Pellon 805) to the back each, then cut out circles. My plan is to use bright threads to edge stitch these small circles in place.

I’ve also picked out a bright batik that echoes the range of colour in the panel to use for a narrow inner border, then add a medium dark grey wider outer border.

The back? No idea yet.

Drunkard’s Path: Carryin’ On

The Current Layout

It’s taken me three days to sew all 70 Drunkard’s Path blocks. It’s a rather slow process – I mark the centre of each piece with a small cut, place the “L” piece on top of the quarter circle, match and pin the centres, then align the right end of the curve and pin it, finally I align the left end, carefully place it under the presser foot, and slowly stitch my way around the curve. Many people prefer having the quarter circle piece on top, but I find I can ease the curve together more easily when the “L” is on top.

This is not a typical Drunkard’s Path layout. I’ve picked up the blocks and tried arranging them in a different way, but I seem unable to do anything other than lay out the blocks in alternating circles! So alternating circles I guess it’s going to be!

I’ve moved blocks around playing with colour placement; this may be where I stop. Next step will be to create rows and finish assembling the quilt top.

I know I want an outer sashing, although I have no idea yet what colour to choose. That raises the question of whether I want narrow internal sashing around the blocks as well. I think not. The sashing will need to be in some strong colour with a grey border outside. I think a grey sashing would fight with the existing grey backgrounds; a colour will fence in everything.

So back to my machine to put the top together.

Let There Be Light

Sewing Studio

Finally, I have light over my cutting table.

Last week and the week before, we had a series of VERY dark days. I turned on the two floor lamps and the LED lights at each sewing station, even so it was still dark over my cutting table, and although I wanted to cut the elements for the Drunkard’s Path blocks it was uncomfortably dark to cut with any accuracy.

Deb mentioned Costco had a sale on LED workshop light fixtures so I went to take a look. On my first visit I came home empty handed; the fixture wasn’t plugged in and I couldn’t tell how much light it would cast, so I left. Visited Home Depot the next day, couldn’t find what I needed – an LED fixture with a remote on/off control (small chains hanging from the light wasn’t going to work!). Back to Costco I went and picked up two. I wasn’t sure I needed more than one but until I unpacked it and plugged it in I wouldn’t be able to tell. One seems to be all I need.

Lucky to have a friend whose husband is a licensed electrician, I was able to have the fixture rewired – I wanted a white cord (not the black it came with) and I needed the cord to be 25 feet long! (The cord had to cross the ceiling, come down the wall above the patio doors, along the woodwork and the baseboard heater to the electrical outlet.) I bought the cord and a plug and with the fixture in hand I trundled over to Brayne’s to have the light rewired. It took him about an hour (he’s meticulous rather than speedy).

Next I engaged the architect husband of another friend to hang the light. Heather and Ben came over yesterday afternoon and Ben (much younger than the handymen in my building) climbed the 6-foot ladder I’d borrowed and he attached the light to my ceiling.

Now there is light over my cutting table. The lamps add a bit more brightness and now they aren’t casting shadows on the table which they were before.

After six years in the apartment, I’m in business.

The Repair

Land’s End Sweater

I collect sweaters. I’ve been collecting for more than 50 years. I wear them, even when they’re no longer quite in style. I reluctantly discard them when they become too worn.

This Land’s End sweater I bought at least 40 years ago. A Fair Isle double knit that’s been done very cleverly with no more than two colours per row although the colour layout seems a lot more complex. This sweater was machine knit – the carrying of the yarn on the back is very even (except where my fingers or watch have got caught in the carry threads and pulled them). I’ve lovingly worn this sweater for a long time. I’ve reinforced the sleeve edges when they began to wear, otherwise it’s intact and warm.

Imagine my dismay the other day when I took off the sweater and discovered a LARGE hole in the left elbow! Why I hadn’t noticed the sleeve becoming threadbare I’ll never know but I missed it until a couple of stitches let go and what I had was a big hole.

I remembered I’d seen a video a couple of weeks back, which I saved to Pinterest, on how to repair a hole in a knit which I thought was ingenious.

Knitting Repair (Click Here)

Although my hole was a lot larger, I decided to try the technique on my sweater. I’m not a knitter for nothing – I have a large yarn stash of many colours of sock yarn. I chose a medium blue fingering to close the holes then top-stitched the stitches with yarns as close to the original colours as I could get – that gave me a final patch close in weight to a double knitting yarn.

The Repair!

I didn’t think to take a picture of the hole before I started. I didn’t take a picture of the initial repair using the medium blue yarn. I don’t have pictures of the repair in progress. I just have this image of the completed repair!

The hole was six rows by nine stitches in size. It started just at the top of the sheep’s back up to the navy stripe, from the sheep’s head on the left to the head of the one on the right – a BIG hole.

When I was finished with the repair itself, I reinforced the white sheep’s body since the yarn there was considerably weakened. Then I wove in all the loose ends on the back. My yarn colour choices aren’t perfect but they close enough that nobody will ever notice!

I have to say I was pleased with myself.

Drunkard’s Path – An Actual Start

An Initial Layout

I cut these quarter circles Sunday. Today I cut the grey/white “L” shaped pieces (as well as clearing up piles of fabrics sitting on surfaces around my sewing room).

I decided to group the quarter circles more or less by colour into sets of 4 then lay them out on the floor. Not half bad. by staggering the rows I get 7 blocks across each row leaving the half circles on opposite sides on alternate rows which sort of hides them. To make this work as a full array I need 10 rows which gives me full circles at the top and bottom edges. In all, I end up using 70 quarter circles which means I will have to cut a bunch more for the back when I’ve finished the top.

Next I have to try laying out the background pieces.

Possible Bottom Row

Except for the bottom left corner (which is too brown in tone) the other background elements look like they might go together. Now I need to pick up these pieces, and complete adding background to the other circles.

Here’s where I wish I had a large design wall! I don’t have a big flannel sheet hanging in my apartment because I don’t have wall space for one. I have to resort to the floor in my studio. I’m OK getting down but getting back up is not as easy as it used to be. So I won’t be able to do a full layout at one time. I’m going to have to work row by row, picking up the pieces as I go along piling them carefully so I can sew each drunkard’s path block. When I have them done, I’ll play with layout again.

Background Added (Tentatively)

Now I need to spend time looking at the array to make sure I’ve distributed the background reasonably well.

Drunkard’s Path – Getting Started

I had two piles of fabric on my cutting table – a stack of bright ones, a pile of light greys/off whites/darker greys. I’ve walked around them for nearly a week. I started cutting today.

I cut quarter circles from seventy-eight different bright fabrics (many from scraps large enough for the quarter circle, as well as fat quarters and other fabrics I had on hand; I cut 6 1/2″ strips from the background greys, then eighty 6 1/2″ squares from the strips. It took me nearly five hours to get that much done. My next move will be cutting the background “L” pieces from the squares so I can construct the blocks (that’s going to give me eighty smaller grey quarter circles as “waste” that I have to use for something!).

Last week I’d cut a couple of 6″ test background blocks – too small. Sewn to the bright quarter circle element my background would have phased out to nearly nothing at the sides. Fortunately I’d only cut four 6″ squares so I didn’t lose a lot of fabric. But that mismatch stopped me going any further for the better part of a week!

Test Layout of Four Drunkard’s Path Squares – Not Sewn

Today, I cut four background squares into “L’s” to see whether 6 1/2″ would work. I laid them out with quarter circle elements. I think this will be fine.

Once I have all the elements cut out, I’ll start laying them on the floor to see what kind of colour flow I get – BEFORE I even start assembling the blocks.

I’m planning on a 7 x 9 block quilt – my finished blocks will be 6″ – that will give me a top panel that’s 42″ x 63″. I’ll add borders to that to make the quilt a bit larger. No idea yet what I’ll use, that will depend on how the colour flow of the top shapes up.