You ask, I answer, part five

Back in part two, I mentioned that I’d just written a review for a writing book. The review’s available online, so you’re welcome to check that out: Book Review: Writing Novels That Sell by Jack Bickham

Today, I’m going to talk a little about quilting because Nicki asked. Quilting is one of those things that I always thought I should know how to do. My first encounter with quilting was when I was still in single digits; my parents were working on one. My dad made this square wooden block that they were using as a template, and there were stacks of squares sitting on the ironing board (I think that’s where I saw them). As far as I know, the quilt was never pieced together, which is a shame. Continue reading

Step by step makes a project

Back in June, I posted about summer projects for while I travel. I figured it’s past time I posted an update on that.

I’m working on a new quilt for my son’s bed, roughly twin size. I’m using 8-inch squares, and the size requires 88 of them. I’ve got just over 1/4 of them completed right now. I want at least half of the squares completed before I start stitching them into rows. I’ll post pictures when I get to that point, too.

It won’t be soon — it takes me 3-4 hours to stitch each square. I can get an hour or two a day in, by taking time in the morning and evening, but that’s still a lot of hours to go.

circle, batting, and square for quilting

Laying out the materials. My son picked out the batting -- it's fairly thick, as you can see. He likes thick blankets.

initial pinning of a square to quilt

Circle folded over & roughly pinned. My circles are a bit on the small side, and with the batting so thick, the edges don't quite mesh as they should.

Square with all the circle edges pinned down.

All the circle's edges pinned neatly. There's some bowing of the pieces, but batting squishes and fabric stretches, so I managed to get the squares together so I could sew them.

Quilt square, sewn

A completed square.

Quilted square, yellow with red thread

Back of a square. This shows how much the square bends because the circle's too small.

Close up of one corner of quilt square.

Close up of one corner. You can see my stitches still have room for improvement.

Summer projects for the road

When our family goes on vacation, we almost always drive, no matter how far we’re going — a couple years ago, we drove from Pennsylvania up to British Columbia, down the Pacific coast, then back across the country to go home. This gives us ample time to listen to audiobooks (seems to be the only time my husband and I listen to Tess Gerritsen), although some books are too complex for anything but routine driving conditions (Oryx and Crake, Blue). The other thing it gives me time for is creating something with my hands.

On previous trips, I’ve knitted sweaters, crocheted and knitted bookmarks, even crocheted doilies (not that I keep any out on our tables). It keeps me busy, and it also helps recharge my muse because I’m indulging in a form of creation that doesn’t require words.

I’ve decided to do something different for our next trip: circular patchwork (see Carol Britts program for pictures to give you an idea). I’ll have to prep all the materials ahead of time — circles, batting, squares — but as I create each block, it’s already quilted. Single blocks can be readily held on my lap, and even joining finished squares into strips should be feasible in the car.

I’m not a hand pieced or quilter — it takes too long. I’d rather use a machine and have a finished product. So many calls on my time! On a trip, though, I’ll have time. I’ll also be developing a new skill. Will I be able to finish a quilt on a trip? No idea, but I can at least start and see how far I get.

The hardest part? May be going through my fabric stash and deciding what to work with!