Hooked on Needles

Friday, July 31, 2009

More fun fabric purchases...from PA this time!

I am so excited to show you the purchases I made at Endless Mountains Quiltworks during my recent visit to Pennsylvania. So I'll just get to it...

Fabric purchase from PA quilt shopSeven different fabrics, and one yard each of the most fun thing I've bought in a long time...Jumbo Ric Rac! I had seen this around the internet, but never in person and I could not resist!

Jumbo Ric Rac from PA quilt shopDon't you love the colors? And look how JUMBO it is on my cutting mat! I don't know what I'll use it for, but I just had to have it.

Fabric purchase from PA quilt shopI thought this fabric was so cheerful, so I bought 1/2 yard of each. I've already used some of it for an item which will be part of a swap gift so I can't show it to you yet. Once the gift has been received, I'll share it.

Fabric purchase from PA quilt shopI just loved this fabric. I have no idea what I will do with it, but the greens really are just so beautiful and classy that they will work up into something lovely eventually.

Fabric purchase from PA quilt shopAnd these two fabrics are from a display that was just inside the front door and grabbed my attention right away. I'm kicking myself for not getting a cut of each fabric in the line, but I will make due with these two for something I will be making soon.

Besides two online purchases I am waiting to receive, that is it for my summer shopping spree. All these wonderful fabrics and yarns and beads and trim and patterns that I have bought over the past few weeks will last me a good long time, making it possible for me to make some very nice gifts. Now I just have to do it!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PA

Last week, my children and I took a little road trip down south and west about 5 hours to the home of one of my sisters and her family. That's always a good time because they live a little bit more 'country' lifestyle than we do, with chickens, sheep, a horse and a dog. So there is always something to do outdoors, if not with the animals, then with her boys who are older than my children and have super cool boy toys with which wars can be fought and imaginary enemies can be slain. Such fun!

While we were there, my sister took me to a quilt shop in the nearby town of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. Endless Mountains Quiltworks, at first glance, is just a plain little storefront in an ordinary strip mall type of shopping plaza. See what I mean...

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PANot very exciting. But...

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAWhen I stepped through the door, what a pleasant surprise awaited!

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAAt every turn, there was something beautiful to look at.

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAAll the fresh, bright colors were a real treat for the eyes.

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAThey even have a separate room where they do long arm quilting services.

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAFabric, patterns, machines, notions...

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PA...samples of finished items, lines of fabrics bundled together in fat quarters, jelly rolls, charm packs...

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAThis area of blues was fabulous. That jacket displayed on the top shelf was made by cutting up a sweatshirt and trimming it with the most delicious blueberry fabric. The pocket is made with fabric that looks like caning and is shaped like a basket. How clever! The little blue bag hanging next to it was just darling too.

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAThe space in this store was used so well with shelves and displays and wall units to show off so many different fabrics and samples and kits of all kinds. Behind this wall of yellows was a large area where a quilting class was being held. What a nice way to spend as afternoon!

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PADo you think that I actually found a few things to buy in here? Of course I did!

Endless Mountains Quiltworks, Tunkhannock PAAnd this little pyramid of scrumptious color and zig zag was just too yummy to pass up! It's JUMBO ric rak!

But you'll have to wait until next time to see the goodies I brought home from this shop. If you're ever in the area of northeastern Pennsylvania, you simply must check out Endless Mountains Quiltworks. You won't be disappointed!

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Triangle Lace Shawl project underway

During our recent vacation up north, I purchased a lace shawl pattern and some lovely Alpaca Lace yarn to make a Christmas gift for my mother. I was quite a bit nervous about starting this project since I usually stick to basic stockinette knitting with maybe a color change or two for interest. But I fell in love with this design, and the yarn was so scrumptious that I couldn't pass up the chance to step, or rather take a running leap, out of my comfort zone and just go for it.

But first I felt the need to practice on some scrap yarn, so here's what I've done...

Practicing pattern with scrap yarnAs you can see, I didn't even take the time to lower my sewing machine into the cabinet and put my light blue background over the table! That's how anxious I was to get going on this!

After reading through the entire pattern several times trying to picture in my head what all the instructions and charts and abbreviations meant, I began. With my handy dandy magnetic board to help me keep track of the chart, my reading glasses, my circular needle whose nylon cable is bent and twisted so as to make me crazy trying to use it (this will have to be remedied before the good yarn comes out), my stitch markers, and my pattern, I started from the beginning and followed one instruction at a time. Working one row after another, I discovered that it really isn't all that complicated after all! What a revelation! What a relief!

Making patterns easier to readSo now that I have come to the conclusion that I actually can do this, I scanned the charts and the abbreviation sections of the pattern and then printed them out as large as I could on one page each. If I were 20 years younger I wouldn't have to do this step, but being now closer to 50 than to 40, my eyes aren't what they used to be! So it's a necessary step and I hope the copyright holder will understand.

I have gotten some good advice from my good friend Merry, of Noah's Ark Blanket fame, to make use of my stitch markers and to also use lifelines while knitting this pattern. Using a lifeline in knitting is not something I have had to do before, but I will definitely be using this technique for this project. I'll share a video with you so you can see how and why lifelines are used in knitting intricate patterns.

So that is what I have been doing to keep myself occupied in my cool basement sewing room during what I am hoping will be a short spell of very hot and humid summer weather. You can be sure that I will show you this triangle lace shawl project once I have started on the real thing.

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Children's Quilting Class has begun!

The 9 patch pillow Children's Quilting Class for which I prepared earlier in the summer began last night at our local public library. Once registration for this class opened up two weeks ago, the class filled up within only a couple of hours and then the wait list filled up too! So there are lots of young girls out there wanting to learn needlearts.

As it turned out, one girl did not show up, so we ended up with 5 girls in the class and they all did a great job with their first handpiecing projects. Some picked it up more quickly than others, and they all had homework to complete before the next class on Thursday evening, but they all did a good job and should be able to have all nine squares pieced before the next class. I'll show pictures of their finished projects after the class ends next week.

For now, let me show you what each of the girls received on their first night of class...

This is the program room in our children's library. Isn't it fabulous? On the wall behind where I was standing to take this picture, there are two huge closets for storage and a little area with a sink and counter top and cabinets. Through the generosity of the Friends of the Library, programs like this and so many others are able to be enjoyed at no charge to the community. We are really very blessed to have such opportunities here in Leominster.


...for the first class, each girl received her own little sewing box with pin cushion, pins, scissors, a large spool of quilting thread, and a little plastic case with several quilting needles in it. Each of the girls also received nine squares of fabric.

In the first class, I taught them how to hand piece their 9 patch block together using this method which I shared here previously. A few of the girls got their first row pieced and part of their second row, and a few didn't get past the first row during the class time. But after explaining to them how to continue so that all 9 squares are connected by Thursday evening, they all said they understood and would get it done. So it will be interesting to see how their blocks come out. I'll keep you updated on their progress as the class continues later this week and into next week.

In other news, summer weather has finally arrived here in New England and I noticed that my 400th post is coming up soon. Can you guess what that means? Stay tuned for more information on a 400th post summer giveaway! Yippee! I love giveaways!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Visit to Bella Beads

A new stop on our vacation shopping tour was a cute little place called Bella Beads, which is in an old New England style house just on the other side of the parking lot from Keepsake Quilting and Patternworks. I was looking for something in particular to finish off a project that you have already seen in sneak-preview mode and I think I got just the right thing, plus a few other goodies! Come along and take a look...

Visit to Bella BeadsEven before we got in the door, we felt like the invitation to stay a while was issued to anyone and everyone!

Visit to Bella BeadsThere were beads of every shape, size, color and material. They were hanging on strings, collected in little cups, stored in little drawers and packages. Everything you could imagine for beading of any kind.

Visit to Bella BeadsThis little area up the ramp holds all kind of findings and wires and strings and clasps and ribbons. Quite a selection in such a small space.

Visit to Bella BeadsSome of the strung beads hang high on the wall over a table of little cups just filled with every sort of little fancy bead you could imagine.

Visit to Bella BeadsMore strung beads hang low on the wall.

Visit to Bella BeadsIn case you are wondering if it's ok to spend money in this shop, now at least you know it's ok with your husband! Funny thing for me was that my husband didn't even know I was coming to this shop, so I got a real chuckle out of this sign.

Bella Beads PurchasesAnd here is what I found that tickled my fancy...just a few strings of glass beads in various sizes, and two big huge painted wooden beads with large holes in them. I won't tell which beads are the ones I was looking for to complete a project. You'll have to wait until you see them on something that will be coming up very soon!

Bella Beads was a fun place to poke around with so much to see and so many pretty possibilities. There was a class going on at the large table just inside the front door so I didn't get any pictures in that direction. The owner, Sue, was very friendly and helpful, and this looked to me like a place I would be happy to spend time creating and designing some nice things. Too bad vacation is only one week a year!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Patternworks Purchases

My purchases from Patternworks are what I am most excited about from our recent vacation in New Hampshire. Let me share them with you...

Patternworks PurchasesThis is how every package from Patternworks and Keepsake Quilting is finished, using a strip of fabric to tie up the bag! I have quite a collection of strips now!

Patternworks PurchasesThis is what my daughter bought for her own projects. She splurged on a skein of 100% cashmere to make herself a scarf using a pattern that she noticed in my pile of purchases! She's frugal just like me! No sense buying two patterns when we can both use the same one, right? She also bought two balls each of yellow, red and blue cotton for some luxury wash cloths. The cotton was on the sale tables out on the front porch and she really loved the colors.

Patternworks PurchasesDon't they look just delicious?

Patternworks PurchasesWhen she saw that I was buying my scarf pattern and a skein of cashmere to go with it, she just had to have one of her own. Of course, feeling it on her skin went a long way to selling her on the idea too.

Patternworks PurchasesThis is my wish list that I put together before leaving home and brought with me so that I would not forget anything I wanted to look at while at Patternworks. After all, it is only a once a year adventure!

Patternworks PurchasesI have always been intrigued by the Koigu yarn that Patternworks carries but never had the nerve to just buy a skein and try it. Well, this time I took the plunge! I purchased two skeins of the incredibly soft premium merino wool yarn, and requested two of the one-skein patterns that are offered free with the yarn purchase. I picked the fingerless mittens and the neck cozy patterns which I plan to make either for myself or for gifts, depending on how they turn out.

I also purchased a package of locking stitch markers which I think will be great to use in crocheting since the markers cannot be slid onto the needle like they can in knitting. I'll let you know how I like them.

Patternworks PurchasesHere's a close-up of my Koigu skeins. Yummy, don't you think? I can't wait to wind them up and start knitting!

FYI, this Koigu yarn is the same yarn suggested for the original Babette Blanket pattern by Kathy Merrick. The pattern calls for 22 skeins in a wide variety of solid colors. At $14 per skein, the yarn for that blanket would be over $300! Yikes! Maybe someday I could really splurge and do that! I can just imagine how a blanket made out of this yarn would feel...so luxurious!

Patternworks PurchasesThese are the patterns I picked out to purchase. A few things for my little girlie girl Gracie, a booklet with several sweater patterns but one in particular that I would love to make for myself, the scarf pattern to go with the cashmere yarn that Elizabeth and I each bought, and a knitted lace shawl pattern that I plan to make for my mother for Christmas. Shhh, don't tell her!

Patternworks PurchasesAnd here's my beautiful blue cashmere which Elizabeth insisted I buy since it will go so nicely with my eyes (her words!), the red alpaca lace yarn for the lace shawl since my mother just adores the color red, and a knitted lace scarf kit with white mohair yarn plus an extra ball of soft fancy yarn to make another of the same scarf pattern.

Patternworks PurchasesThere's my gorgeous blue cashmere. Ooooh, I am just itching to get my crochet hook into that!

Patternworks PurchasesI thought that lace scarf pattern was so pretty and delicate with its scalloped edge, and the other ball of yarn is really quite soft and lovely with many different colors in a self striping sort of arrangement. It was on sale too, so I just couldn't pass it up!

Patternworks PurchasesAnd this is the super soft Alpaca lace yarn which I will use for the shawl. That pattern is scaring me just a little as I have never knitted lace before, and I have never used expensive yarn to knit anything before! Two firsts in the same project! I read through the pattern and it seems just a little intimidating to me, but I'm sure once I practice it on some scrap yarn and work it through, I will be able to do it with no trouble. (I say that with all fingers and toes crossed!)

So that was our fun and indulgent shopping trip to Patternworks during vacation this summer. Now I have quite a few projects waiting for me, and I know I'll just love working on them when they finally make it to the top of my list of things to do.

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Keepsake Quilting Purchases and more

Time for some show and tell from my recent family vacation visit to Keepsake Quilting...

Keepsake Quilting Purchases I've been practically drooling over the Jelly Bag pattern from Bunny Hill Designs that has been showing up around quilting and sewing websites lately, so I just couldn't pass up the chance to purchase it without paying shipping charges!

And even after receiving all those fat quarters from Grace Full Creations, I still had to pick up a few more to add to my collection.

Keepsake Quilting Purchases In the front entrance of the shop is a sizeable display of sale fabrics which I had to check out, and I found a few fabrics that I liked. Then I found a few others that I purchased for specific purposes, which I'll be sharing with you shortly. For now, you'll have to guess which ones are which!

Keepsake Quilting Purchases My daughter couldn't pass up their fabulous selection of flannels, and she came home with this lovely little bundle to make a baby blanket. She has a few friends who are getting married and is thinking that someday soon she might be invited to a baby shower so she wants to be prepared. Such a fun time in a young girl's life!

Keepsake Quilting Purchases Sharing the same store space as Keepsake Quilting is their sister store Keepsake Needlearts and Elizabeth always finds something on their sale table on the front porch to bring home. Last year it was the Irish cross stitch which she finished and we had framed for her for Christmas. This year it was a cross stitch of the New York City skyline and a cute little Christmas cross stitch kit with a ginger bread parade on it. Those ought to keep her busy in her spare time this next year.

I love what I purchased at Keepsake Quilting, but my purchases from Patternworks just thrill me to no end! I can't wait to show them to you...next time!

Happy Stitching!

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