Monday 31 January 2011

Some progress

My time seems to go too fast at the moment. The week is gone and I wonder if I managed to get anything done. Last week I sent my red and white granny squares to the Rainbow.

I have also been working on my nine-patch quilt for Anne Marie's challenge. It is going to be a big one. I have used the sleeves of 16 plaid shirts and almost every part of three denim shirts. I still need to work on the sashings and make the backing from stash.

Naturally I have been watching the birds too. I love this acrobat titmouse:

We have had some sunny days already, and the day is about 2 hours longer than at winter equinox in December. We expect some 30 cm or 12" snow for next weekend. I think we already have enough for one winter!

I better go back to the sewing machine and start to work again. Have a nice and productive week!

Sunday 23 January 2011

One more appeal

Last week I found yet another appeal for crafters anywhere in the world to help people who lost what they had in the Australian floods :

Sarah London asks for granny squares of five rounds, and she will add a final round and join all the squares to lovely blankets. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions, but I think the most important thing is to make 5 rounds. The size should be about 11.5 cm or 4.5" across, but when there are hundreds of squares, Sarah will find matches for almost any size. You can use any colours you have, just one or five, and the yarn can be acrylic or wool or mixed fibres.

I used all my colourful yarns for the two little granny blankets I crocheted in 2009, but I still had some of the red yarn I bought to join the squares, and some white yarn, so last night I made these while watching Eurosport with Mr. K. How about you? Any tiny yarn balls asking to be used for a good cause? Just follow the links to sign in so you get the e-mail with instructions where to send your squares. These are a lot quicker to make than the QAYG quilt blocks. This project will last until the end of 2011.

If you follow the first link to Sarah London's blog, you can see that she shows pictures of some cool stuff!

Thursday 20 January 2011

New project with shirts, and bird news

As you may know, my favourite fabric source is Mr. Kotkarankki. I usually just gently guide his shirt choices to suit my purposes, and then wait patiently until the collars and cuffs start to fray. It takes a few years to get a shirt to my stash this way, but if I'm lucky and he likes the shirt, he wears it often and I get it sooner. Another way is to make him understand that he doesn't really like a shirt because it is a) too tight or too big, b) too stiff or too coarse, or c) the wrong colour for him after all (but not for me!). This way I can lay my hands on barely used shirts. This lot has been worn and loved, and now it is mine:

And this is what I have been doing with them this week:

The first nine-patch blocks for Anne Marie's Nine Patch Challenge 2011.

The blocks will be 9" finished size, because so many of the shirts have such big patterns. I must dig deeper to find more material for the light squares.

It has been snowing almost every day. My path to the composter is more than knee deep. There is more snow already than there was last year during the whole winter, and we still have about two snowy months left. It often snows in April too, but by then most of the snow has thawed away.

When there is no wind, the snow gathers on the oak branches.

We keep a record of different birds we recognize in our yard, and mark on a list the first date we spotted them each year. The long-tailed titmouse flock comes a couple of times a week to eat the fat and seeds. I think they look cute, such soft, round creatures.

By this date we have seen 15 species, most of them daily visitors at the bird feeder. They eat sunflower seeds with a small addition of peanuts, and the tits and woodpeckers like the fat-and-seeds sausage or balls. They need lots of energy just to keep  warm in this climate. We take care there is always food for them once we have started the winter feeding. When the weather has warmed and there are insects available, we take the feeder away so the birds will take care of themselves during the warmer season. After the migrating birds have left in late October, or when the first frosts come, we start feeding birds again. This way we don't tempt the migrating birds to stay as they are not going to survive our winter, no matter how much we feed them. This place is for the tough guys only!

Thursday 13 January 2011

Use your stash again this year

I spent a long time making a new button for my own little challenge for 2011. Blogger and Picnik both work in curious ways, and so my pile of farbics is upside down and the picture is rotated to the right to make it look like this:

Edit: if you want to copy and paste this button, please use the smaller one on my right sidebar!

I'm pretty pleased with my self with the new motto: Use your stash to make space for new fabrics in 2011 sounds so positive! You are welcome to copy the button to your own blog, if you share the stash problem with me and want to try to make something about it. There are no rules, just try, like I'm doing, to use more fabric than you buy. Use the ones you have first. Check what you have before you buy a new fabric for a need. Nobody can avoid sudden urges if they see a lovely fabric they must have. Then you just need to use more of the old ones! I have a couple of good suggestions: Join Anne Marie's Nine-Patch Challenge (button also on my right sidebar) to make yourself a lovely new quilt, join Jackie's call for pillowcases (tutorial here) for the Hole in the Wall Gang, or use your strips to make some 10.5" blocks for Oz Comfort Quilts (tutorial here) . This is my lot photographed on the floor before I packed them tightly in a light shopping bag I had made earlier, and sent for Jan to Australia. I took care to keep it just within the weight limit, sending the maximum amount with the minimum cost. Jan will join these with other donated blocks or ones she made herself to make a quilt 5 x 7 blocks, and later they will be brought to the Queensland flood survivors. The bags will be used to pack each quilt in, and the people will get a nice bag instead of plastic ones for their things.

From small scraps and orphan blocks you could make boobs for Mrs. Moen's therapeutic art project for breast cancer patients (instructions here), or you can send her treasured boobs, or even adorned ones. One her blog you will also find the shipping instructions, and she hopes to get them before the end of March. The Make a Boob blog homepage is here. You will find answers to all your questions there.

This week I finished my sixth block of the Raggedy & Friends BOM quilt by Kaaren at The Painted Quilt. Next week she will give us three new blocks, smaller than this and each with only one stitchery. All the previous blocks' instructions are still available for free, so you can start your own Raggedy Ann and Andy quilt now if you like.

My Raggedy Ann has posed for many pictures like in the stitchery drawn by Kaaren, but we both found this one a little too tricky for her. She doesn't have wings, and the position was too demanding for her. Let's hope there will be easier ones coming, as we both enjoy our little photo shoots so much.

The days are visibly longer here already, but the sun keeps still very low, hardly over the treetops, and most days have been cloudy, so there are no nice new photos. It is best to keep indoors and cut fabric, drink hot tea and keep warm.

Sunday 9 January 2011

New Year & new challenges

Today we had the first thaw since November. It is raining now, and the snowy pavements will be ice and awful for a long time. I prefer -10 C and dry snow anytime between November and March. The apple tree picture was taken a few days ago when the air was curiously red.

I used a lot of fabrics last year, but I hope to use even more this year. I have started with a big plastic bag of strips in any colour, length and width.

 I'm sewing them together to make 10.5" blocks with the QAYG technique, so I can use leftover bits of batting as well. The blocks - 10 ready by today - will go to Jan Mac in Australia. She will join them with other blocks from other places of the world, and deliver them to the Queensland flood area, where families have lost everything.

Jan has a tutorial showing how to make the blocks on her other blog, and her address is on the Oz Comfort Quilts blog. Every block sent to her will find its place in a quilt, every block counts. The postage of a few blocks sent in a big envelope is not too much, if you want to help. Or maybe you have a group of quilters who could share the mailing costs and send more blocks together? They are in fact fun to make, and it takes about half an hour to make a block. It takes 35 blocks to make a quilt.

I have joined another challenge as well already: Anne Marie from Norway is challenging other quilting bloggers to make a Nine-Patch quilt from stash by September 1st. It is not a swap, you can do anything you like with the quilt, and there are no size limits either. Your quilt just needs to have a Nine-patch block or many of them.

Both these projects suit perfectly my efforts of reducing the amount of fabric I have laying around the house, mostly folded in boxes and sorted by colour but also in plastic bags, baskets and just free-standing piles. If you have the same sort of a problem, these are two nice ways to help you towards your goal.

I wish you all a happy new year, with lots of inspiration and lovely projects!