Posted in quilting

Inspired by Tangoes

Actually, this experiment came to mind while I was viewing Cindy Anderson’s blog “Sew Much Fun.” She had made some quilt blocks in the shape of birds. Check it out here:

After admiring her work, I began to think that it reminded me of the puzzle Tangoes.

This ancient Chinese puzzle started when a man named Tan dropped a 4 inch tile on the floor and it broke into seven pieces. Putting the pieces back together proved more challenging than he expected. Eventually, Tan began to visualize various forms that could be built with the seven shapes – animals, people and abstract forms.

Over the years the puzzle gained a large following, resulting in up to 16,000 possible solutions. The version that I have includes a deck of cards with 54 solutions. I decided to design a quilt block out of one of these images. Here is the one I chose:

To start with, I searched the Internet to see if anyone else has published a quilt block that looks like this arrow. While I found many different forms of arrow shaped blocks, none resembled this design.

Realizing that the design is actually a made from two triangles, I tried to make each triangle and them sew them together. After much cutting, pressing and sewing, I came up with this. It is actually a full inch bigger than the Tango shape.

A good start, but the proportions are wrong and it was very wasteful to make. Hm,

So I slept on it. It finally occurred to me that I could solve the lower triangle by making the stem of the Maple Leaf block. And the upper triangle could be solved by making a nine patch block, with two solid strips and one 3-patch strip then slicing the block on the diagonal. This solution would allow mass production of the block with a lot less waste.

Middle strip of nine-patch which includes the light square
Maple Leaf stem block, after slicing it diagonally.
Nine patch ready to be sliced diagonally and sewn to the stem triangle
The two triangles sewn together.

Here is my solution compared to the Tangoes solution. It’s still not quite right…

But it is close enough to require only tweaking. I would like to narrow the stem and widen the arrowhead. Also, it would be good to make the external block dimension 4 and 1/2 inches square, so that the finished size will end up a 4 inch square. (Sigh) I do believe a little math will be necessary if I hope to use this quilt block in a future fiber object.

Posted in painting, quilting

Update on Arches Quilt

I last wrote about this project on November 16th – almost a month ago. In that post I made a list of next steps. While I have completed all but a few of those steps, I started to lose enthusiasm for the project while painting my fabric. It seems that all of my fabrics began to look alike. I told myself that the background fabrics SHOULD look alike, otherwise they wouldn’t retreat into the background. But I still wanted more texture and movement in the colors. So I decided to go back to Cindy Walter’s fabric painting class, to review my technique and discover what I’m missing.

That did the trick. I worked a few variations on color washing and finished painting the background fabric. I now have enough fabric to start building the quilt blocks.

Looking at all the difference in the fabrics, it’s clear to me that I need to organize them in a way that illustrates the scene I want to paint. The solution came to me while I was in the shower. (Why do I get my best ideas while washing my hair?) The Arch stretches itself across three different backdrops.



And sky

I have my design, my structure, my fabric and my pattern. Now I can begin to sew.

Posted in knitting

Knitting Baby Clothes

The past two days have been cold and wet – perfect weather for curling up with a bit of knitting. My daughter let me know that the baby has outgrown most of her outfits which I knit last year. And she is crawling now. Here is the baby, seven months old, wearing the cotton overalls that I made in a 12 month size.

I picked up a similar yarn last summer, in an acrylic blend.

Designing baby clothes is really quite simple. All you need is an idea, some measurements, a swatch, and a schematic drawing. Everything else is math. While I don’t have my granddaughter’s measurements, I can use the standard baby size chart developed by the Craft Yarn Council. You can find it here:

Here are my drawing and swatch:

The lower edge will be a lace ruffle. The skirt will be in stockinette stitch and the bodice in garter stitch. I have decided to use the same style of buttoned straps as I did on the orange overalls. My swatch gauge for the lace section is 4 and 1/2 stitch per inch. I want the skirt to measure at least 32″ around. The lace pattern is a seven stitch repeat. So I will cast on 154 stitches. This works out to 22 pattern repeats and about 34″ diameter. After about three inches, I will switch to stockinette stitch. My gauge for this stitch is 4 and 3/4 stitch per inch, which will bring the diameter back to 32″ After knitting for seven more inches, I will reduce by K2tog every other stitch, eliminating about 40 stitches. This brings the diameter down to 24 inches for the bodice. Once I am there, I will figure out the armhole shaping.

Here is the dress so far. Ruffle almost complete.

Since rain is forecast for the rest of this week, I should make fast progress on this cute little dress in the next couple of days.