Sunday, March 1, 2015

Custom King Size Rainbow Sparkler Quilt {Finished!!}

Meet Mr.Sparkles, a king-sized beauty!

The grass is growing, and the flowering trees are in bloom!

This calls for a clothesline photoshoot!

Oh, drat!  Did you see the block that is turned wrong?  
Just kidding - they can be turned any direction and still be correct!  Gotcha!!
I love it all jumbled up.  If I made this quilt for myself, I'd lay the blocks out totally random ... maybe ... if I had enough courage to break out of the expected! 

The quilt finished at 108" square and shrank to 104.5" x 106.5" when washed and dried in cool temperatures.  This is not much shrinkage at all for this size of quilt.  I've had queens shrink 5" each direction which is a big deal with today's thick mattresses where every inch of the quilt counts.  This one likely didn't shrink "squarely" due to the pressure put on the quilt by the rollers in the quilting process when it is stretched in only one direction.  I like the quilt top and backing snug when quilting.  
Finding extra extra wide solid black backing proved difficult, and the only one I found was at, but it had a 1-star rating!!  UGH!  I bought it anyway because it was my only 118" wide option, and I am so glad I did!  I ♥ this backing!  It is Fabri-Quilt Cotton Sateen in Black.  It is super soft, has sheen on one side {which I put inside the quilt}, and is a nice substantial weight.  Many backings are thin and scratchy, but this one is so soft, even softer than the front Kona Solids!

Whoops - a blech-y colored picture, but it shows the back.
Here's a close-up of the allover meandering stitch.  Mrs.Singer can do this stitch and an organic side-to-side stitch.  Nothing fancy but sure effective!
Hobbes approves!   Did you see his tail above?  He walked all around the quilt, checking it out.  {His tail just hangs after it was run over by a car.}

Quilt Stats:
  • Pattern:  Sparkler by Lee at Freshly Pieced
  • Size:  King, 104.5" x 106.5" 
  • Fabric:  Kona Solids
  • Batting:  Black Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly
  • Backing:  118" Fabri-Quilt Cotton Sateen Black (LOVE IT!)
  • Quilting:  Allover meandering in black polyester thread on Mrs.Singer, my antique 31-15 mounted on a long-arm quilting frame.
  • Binding:  Kona Black, double fold, attached by machine
  • Value:  Stunning happiness!
This quilt was a custom order in my Etsy shop, Busy Hands Quilts!

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Knit Mara Shawl {A Learning Experience!} + A Sale!

This is my wobbly attempt at the Mara Shawl by Madelinetosh.  It's a free pattern on Ravelry.  Very simple, very easy ... knit and yarn over ... but I have struggled!  Keeping the open strip actually centered without moving it over one stitch has kept me busy - pulling rows out, that is!  Not once or twice, but three times I have pulled rows out - rows as in 6-10 rows each time!  {SIGH}
The yarn is Pacific Color Wave by Cascade Yarns and is my first-ever purchase from our local real, true, stand-alone yarn shop.  I would never have picked it out except there was a child's sweater knitted as a sample in the shop, and the subtle color changes were just too pretty to resist!  

This yarn is 40% Superwash Merino Wool / 60% Acrylic, rated worsted, but a thin worsted.  It's nice to have the pros at a yarn shop help you select the correct weight of yarn.  Worsted is a fairly broad category, and their shop is arranged by thinner worsted, medium worsted, and thicker worsted, which is great, but why there is so much variation is very weird and annoying to me!  This seems to run through the yarn industry - brands sold at JoAnn's and Michael's also do this.  I like Cascade Yarns because they are reasonable in price.  Here is a nice selection of worsted Cascade Yarns that might work for the Mara shawl if you'd like to make one!

The picture below is a more accurate rendering of the colors in my yarn.  It's grayish and purplish, but not bluish.  I could have taken the first picture again, but I figure this shows what this pretty pattern looks like in a different colorway. 
I usually have at least one yarn project going at any given time and usually several concurrently.  It keeps my hands busy and helps my mind not to wander when I'm watching a DVD class or listening to books on CD with the kids {we homeschool}.  This is one of several projects I have going on in addition to several scarves, a crocheted rainbow pillow, a giant crocheted round rainbow bag, and a lap-sized afghan.  The area around my rocking chair looks like my grandma's did!  {Thanks, Grandma, for the inspiration!}

Craftsy has a My First Lace Shawl class, which I should have watched before I began my shawl.  It would have saved me a lot of headache.  This class includes casting-on tips, how to read charts {I go cross-eyed looking at them!}, and how to fix mistakes without having to rip out your whole shawl!  Ka-Ching - exactly what I need!!  I purchased this class today {it's on sale!}, and I will be watching it before knitting anymore on my Mara shawl.  Who knows, maybe I will even begin again like Finnigan!

Craftsy also has a WaterSpout Shawl Kit available for this class.  I chose the coordinating kit in Avondale.  Isn't it beautiful!?

Craftsy is having a Flash Sale!  

Save up to 70% off popular kits and fabric!  Yarn, too!

Sale runs through Sunday, March 1st.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Custom King Size Sparkler Quilt {Quilting}

The king size Sparkler quilt blocks have been assembled, and the quilt top and backing are loaded on the rails, the black batting is sandwiched in between, and this baby is ready to quilt!
I ♥ extra-wide backings after learning to square them up by tearing the raw edges.  My ♥ just sings when the backing is rolled on the rails and ends up perfectly flat, especially when it's a king size and it's still perfectly flat after 3+ yards rolled up on the rail!  It's nearly impossible to square up backings by cutting them; tearing results in the edge being straight with the grain of the fabric.  I am not sure why, but regular quilt fabric doesn't tear like extra-wide backing does.  I sure wish it did when I use it for pieced quilt backings.

The next step is my least favorite of the entire quilting process - making bobbins! Oh, how I dread making bobbins!  Fortunately I have a Bobbin Winder to save wear and tear on my beloved old Bernina 830.  Anything to extend her life - I ♥♥ her so much!  I'm going to make 15 to start, and that likely won't be enough.  On a queen- or king-sized quilt, I change the bobbin after every pass across the quilt so all loose threads end up at the edges, even if it means not using the entire bobbin.  I can always use the remainder of the bobbin at my regular sewing machine when piecing.

This quilt is a custom order in my Etsy shop, Busy Hands Quilts.