Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The little things

It's the little things--or little bits of things--that can make a huge difference in a design.  I suppose I've always known that, in a abstract fashion, but it's becoming more clear with each quilt I design.  A difference of an inch, or half an inch, in the size of a piece or sashing can make all the difference in the success of a design.

There have been two recent quilts that have been good examples, and have also taught me some patience in working through a design.  (There will be no blue ribbons for me in the patience class, so this is a bigger deal than you might think!)

The most recent is my "Abacus" quilt.  I started out with a design in my head, then on paper.  There were two possible designs for the beads and I liked the pointed ones better.  But, my family shares photos on a photostream via our iDevices, and my sibs pretty nixed that pointed one.   That was okay because, really, I didn't like either of them all that much; the proportions just weren't right when translated to fabric.

 Back to the drawing board (design wall) and a change in the width of the beads.   Those were better (though they ended up another 1/4" narrower) but the rods were too wide.  I cut those in half but the length wasn't right.   Let's just say that's it's a good thing I had purchased extra fabric!

In the end, I liked it quite a bit.  So far, it's not a favorite of friends and family, but I like it and it's pretty close to the picture that had been in my head.  I might yet make one with the pointed beads.

The other recent example is for a design I'm calling "Baskets" for the time being. (The pattern, and a batik version,  are in the works.)  I don't even remember how many versions of the sashing I went through before settling on the final, narrow sashing and cornerstones.   There was a point when I was ready to just settle for the latest width and be done with it but when I tried this size, it was so perfectly what I wanted that I was glad for the patience that came from somewhere outside of me.   

Staying with it and tweaking until it's just right is worth the frustration--lesson learned!  Here's hoping that the patience gene will awaken in me. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Crazier all the time

I dabble in crazy quilts (well, blocks, anyway) from time to time and a Craftsy class (Heirloom Lace Edgings) stirred my interest in hand-knit and crocheted lace edgings to include in my crazy quilting. 

To begin, I looked back at few of my past and ongoing crazies.  I don't know if it's true of real crazy quilters, but I seem to never quite be finished with a crazy block--there are so many blocks in progress that I should feel guilty about even thinking about starting a new one.  But that's quilting, right?  I've learned to put aside that guilt and move on. ;-)

One of my favorite pieces is a small quilt that sits on the fireplace mantle in my den.  I think it looks pretty complete and doesn't really need any additional lace edgings.  I don't look too long, though, or I might find a little corner that teases me, wanting just a little piece of stitching or tiny button.  No, Karen, just move on....

There just isn't room on the itty-bitty crazy, so there's no question of adding lace.

My first crazy quilt, stitched years ago, now looks VERY unfinished to me now, but there really aren't any seams to edge with lace--they have stitches which need more embellishment, and I want to add some button clusters, motifs, etc., but I'm not seeing a place for lace edging.

 I might crochet or knit a lace motif around which I can embroider and embellish to my heart's content but not edging.

A Christmas block has been in the works, off and on, for 3 or 4 years and it could use some more but I'm not sure a lace edging is going to work anywhere; maybe a very delicate one along the edge of the green with the red button cluster....maybe....

Tone-on-tone is a favorite look in crazy quilting for me and a pieced, but un-embellished block has been on the design wall for awhile.  It seemed like a good time to take it down and think about some embellishing with lace edging, as it's basically a blank canvas.

The smallest knitting needles I had at the time I started this knitted edging thing was a 2.  Using a size 10 crochet thread the lace looked a little larger than I was looking for. (Though, it is a more appropriate size than with alrger needles and yarn.

So, I ordered some 0 - 000 needles and, while it didn't change the size appreciably, it did make the work look more tidy.

The edging looks OK on the block (and I also added an Irish Lace rose that I crocheted a few months ago) and I can make it work with lots of beads and embellishment but I really would like some even smaller laces.

 The 5/0, 6/0 and 8/0 needles arrived yesterday.  (Just look at the size of those 8/0s; have you ever seen anything so darn cute?)

The 5/0 needles have been put to work, this time with size 20 crochet thread and the lace is getting smaller. (Compared to size 6 needles, even with laceweight yarn, they look downright diminuitive!)

It would be easier if there were a greater contrast between the color of the thread and the color of the needles, and good light is a necessity but smaller needles aren't as big a challenge as I feared.

 Of course, I haven't tried to 8/0 yet but it won't be long.   They're so fine that it looks a bit as if I'll be knitting with insect pins and sewing thread but what's the fun of crazy quilting if you don't try some crazy things?

Some lace edgings will be in upcoming posts--after a bit of practice.  :-)  I like this wave edging (shown here with size 000) and it will be my target edging for the 5/0, and perhaps the 8/0, needles.  Stay tuned. (Keep me honest!)