Sunday, August 26, 2007

OCD (Obsessive Creative Disorder)

Before I natter on about everything I have and haven't been doing, here is something I actually finished:
The block is called "Cobblestones". Here's a link to the pattern (I didn't make the brick blocks).
Most of the neutral fabrics were a gift from my friend Mary as part of my 39 1/2 birthday, as you may recall from this post. I added the hint of blush after being inspired by the pink ribbon she tied the fabric with.
I don't know if you can see it in the photos, but it was beautifully quilted by Jacci at Mill Creek Machine Quilting in South Portland, Maine. I think she did a terrific job! A quilt this size, about 65 x 75 inches, is way too large for me to tackle, and quite frankly, even if I did have a table and machine large enough to accommodate it, I dislike this aspect of quilting. I confess. I love buying fabric and I love putting colors together, but I don't actually like the process very much. Cutting is a pain and so is the piecing. So why do I do it? I like the end result. Which is why you are going to think I'm totally crazy...

A while back, two of the women in my quilting group showed us a large scrap quilt called "Brave New World" (from Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting May/June 2006) that they made to donate to an auction. At the time, I oooohed and ahhhhhed all over it and begged them to do a workshop. Many moons later, as the date for the workshop approached, I innocently asked "Oh, what quilt is that?" and was reminded that I was the one who had asked for it. Ooops.

So last Sunday, on the last day of my vacation and less than a week before the workshop, I decided to take a look at the materials list. It called for 64 little squares, and 64 large triangles and 128 small triangles (I am simplifying here) to make a wall quilt that would measure 32 x 32 inches. Well, I decided I'd use up some charm squares from my stash. To explain: over the years I have participated in a number of charm square swaps, where one contributes 6 inch squares of a particular fabric for each person participating. In the past there have usually been around 20 people and two fabric themes. So if the color theme for the month were blues and greens, you'd bring in 20 blue squares and 20 green squares, and come home with 2o different blues and 20 different greens. Now multiply that by 8 (we don't swap all year) and by 5 years or so. It starts to pile up. So, as I was saying, I thought that this "little" scrap quilt would be a good way to use up some of those squares. Ahem.


I decided that I didn't want a wall quilt, I wanted a throw!! Caution: math and madness coming.

The block is made up of 16 units and measures 16 inches when finished. Each unit is made of 4 pieces and measures 4 inches. In order to make a throw (or lap quilt) measuring 60 x 76 inches (including borders) I'd need 12 blocks, plus units for the borders for a grand total of 252 units. Multiply that by 4 and get....508 pieces. Yes 508. Half of a thousand. Fortunately, I didn't do all the math right away. I just started cutting.

and cutting

and cutting
Then I did the math....

and still I cut and cut and cut and cut.

At one point I realized, in a "Jaws" like moment, "I'm going to need more fabric". Before you laugh, think of this: from each 6 inch square I could only get 2 large triangles, 4 squares, or 8 small triangles. I couldn't mix and match. Thankfully, I never got rid of that Hefty bag of scraps that has been gathering dust since I cleaned out the sewing room. You should have seen me on my hands and knees at 11 o'clock at night digging around for pieces large enough to get at least one 2 and a half inch square out of. Oh, sure I could have cut up some of the large pieces of stash I have, but it's supposed to be a scrap quilt!

Every single night last week, I cut. Then I started sewing, and cutting more. Finally, exhausted from all of this "prep" work, I arrived at the workshop Friday night with 133 units already sewn and all the parts (or so I thought) for the remaining 119 units. I was ready to quilt all night. Unfortunately, everyone else was done by 8:00. So, I packed up and went home and knit went to bed and jumped up Saturday morning and started sewing

and sewing

and sewing

By 2:30 in the afternoon, I'd finished 3 blocks. Did I happen to mention that the hot, humid weather is back? The only air conditioning in my sewing room is a window. It gives new meaning the phrase "sweat shop".
This morning I finished 3 more. If I don't count the borders (which I'm not right now since I somehow miscounted and need to make a few more units), I'm half way there! For the most part, things are coming together nicely. However, here's an example of something that is going to bite me in the butt later:
el cheapo fabric that shrunk up as soon as I hit it with the iron. Needless to say, I'm getting a little sick of this quilt. It is eating my life!!! At Mr. Strange's urging, I put it aside for the day to work on a gift for a friend. This is all I'm going to show you because some people who read this will see it and get ideas about who it's for and such, but I'm not even going to show you what color it is!!

I will tell you that it is a lovely something for a lovely person and it doesn't look anything like the lovely thing it was supposed to be because, after all of that math, I can't seem to tell the difference between 2 inches and 3.

You know, the nice thing about knitting is that if I screw up, I can just rip it out and start over.

Knitting. Oh yeah, that thing I used to write about that involves sticks and string...

Haven't done much on Fifi. It looks just about the same as it did the last time I posted a photo.
Before I went on vacation, I had this brilliant idea that I'd make Lemonade from Magknits August 2007 with some GGH Linova that I've been hiding in my stash. The pattern calls for worsted weight cotton yarn knit on size 3 needles to minimize the natural tendency for cotton to stretch. When I knit my gauge swatch, I found that I was getting a lovely, drapey fabric with a dk weight gauge. Nice, but not right for Lemonade. Way back in the cobwebs of my mind, I remembered a book I had... ah yes! Louisa Harding's "Modern Classics" had the perfect simple v-neck cardigan in the exact same gauge. How convenient! Too bad I had to go and make it all complicated by making an extra smaller size and adding shaping. Complicated in the sense that math was involved (yet again, the math!) and, as I was decreasing the neckline for the front, realized that I'd have 4 stitches less to bind off than the pattern and would have to re-do all the shoulder bind-off's and neck shaping for the back.
It was only last week that I realized that "tink" is "knit" spelled backwards. How ironic.

And this, my friends, is what I do in my "spare" time to relax and unwind from my mentally challenging job.


Lori said...

You.have.a.problem. Put the fabric down and love your yarn again!! It's so sad that this is the only way to see how you are doing. I might have to come over with beer (lots) to settle you down for one night. When are you going to fit in Knit night on Wednesdays?? The winter is upon us!

Charlie said...

you're amazing... by the way.