Thursday, December 26, 2013

"Come Into My Parlor"

"Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
'tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've many curious things to shew when you are there."

from "The Spider and the Fly" by Mary Howitt

My daughter likes spiders.
She really does like spiders!

When she was a little girl she was afraid of all kinds of flying and crawling "bugs", spiders included. I really tried to teach her that most of these critters were completely harmless, but after the experience of sitting on a bee when she climbed into a small tree, it was pretty much a lost cause.  It didn't help that she has a severe reaction to mosquito bites, as well.

Somehow, though, she could appreciate a spider as an artist. She was fascinated by the symmetry and beauty of delicately spun webs. She also liked the idea that spiders got rid of creepy, scary insects.

And then came the experience with wolf spiders. 
Scary looking creatures, aren't they?

Wolf spiders sometimes come indoor as weather turns cold. As autumn approached we noticed that our house had absolutely no insects anywhere - nothing. Not a fly, not a cricket, not even the little spiders that like to hide their webs in corners and on ceilings. Nice! 

And then we found the wolf spiders. A pair of them had found a home in our basement. They were calm, and pretty much harmless as long as you didn't try to pick one up, so we kept them as pets. They lived in our basement for over a year, rarely seen, but working hard for their keep. 

So, my daughter likes spiders. That's why I made this mug rug for her for Christmas. 

Oh, do come into my parlor!

Happy Stitching!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Home For Christmas - Tutorial

It's Christmas Eve at my house and all is calm and peaceful. Christmas chores complete, no noisy children underfoot, only soft holiday music in the background, and no wet birds, thank goodness.

I pulled out this Christmas quilt a few days ago and settled it on my couch by the fireplace. Of all my quilts, this one may be my favorite.

I love the log cabin pattern and the fabrics, but most of all I love how it reminds me of my mother. It was made to remember her. She was so heartbroken after my father died and wanted only to join him. Less than two years later, on December 15, 2005, in a house beautifully decorated for the holidays, she passed away. Her prayers were answered and she had truly gone home for Christmas. That's how the quilt got it's name.

People often ask me what I did to make the flowers look like they are dancing around vines. I'm sharing the trick with you. You might consider it a Christmas gift.

The finished log cabin blocks are 9" squares. This quilt is rather long and narrow, 4 blocks wide and 6 blocks long. If I were to make it again I think I'd either make it 4 blocks by 5 blocks or 5 blocks square. There are 3 borders, 1/2", 1 1/2", and 2".

The finished dimensions are 44" x 62".

It's all about the fabric choices. It begins with a very large floral background on a light or white background. The petals have to stand out individually with lots of light colored spaces in between. Then, a green leaf print. Again, the leaves should be rather prominent, though the light background isn't required. The rest of the fabrics in the log cabin blocks should be light or rather neutral.

The fabrics I used.
Only this one block is used, throughout the quilt. The numbers on this diagram show the order in which the strips are added.

Cutting measurements for one block. Multiply the number of strips of each fabric you will need for one block by the number of blocks you choose to use.
Strip 1: 1 1/2" x 1 1/2"
Strip 2: 1 1/2" x 1 1/2"
Strip 3: 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"
Strip 4: 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"
Strip 5: 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" 
Strip 6: 1 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Strip 7: 1 1/2" x 4 1/2"
Strip 8: 1 1/2" x 4 1/2"
Strip 9: 1 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Strip 10: 1 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Strip 11: 1 1/2" x 6 1/2"
Strip 12: 1 1/2" x 6 1/2"
Strip 13: 1 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Strip 14 1 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Strip 15: 1 1/2" x 8 1/2"
Strip 16: 1 1/2" x 8 1/2"
Strip 17: 1 1/2" x 9 1/2"

This diagram shows how to assemble  the blocks. They are turned in only two directions for this quilt pattern. 

The finished layout of the blocks after being sewn together. The dancing petals don't show up in this diagram at all. The main reason is that I couldn't find a picture of poinsettia fabric that had leaves as large and a background as light as it needed to be.  The inner green computerized design is also too solid. It should have a very light background with little green showing at all - more like the fabric I actually used. 

This photo shows the borders. The red is 1/2" wide, the floral is 1 1/2" wide, and the green is 2" wide. 

Merry Christmas from my house to yours. Whether home or away from home, may your holiday be filled with joy.