Sometimes blogland provides a little too much fresh inspiration, and I find myself unable to resist exploring a new project idea. Not that I have any spare time likely between now and the new year, but still...
So I'll blame today's daydreaming on Kaffe Fassett, whose new book Country Garden Quilts seems endlessly browseable, I just can't soak it all in at once. And Jane Brocket, whose Allotment quilts featured in Kaffe's new book are so simple in concept, yet beautifully graphic. And Lucy of Attic24, who blogged her photo of the colorful Kaffe fabrics from the Liberty of London store shelf, and made me so wish we had a store in Phoenix that carried all Kaffe's fabrics.
But luckily there are a number of websites that carry his fabrics, so I decided to explore and make my own swatches to play with.
It's pretty simple: go to a fabric website, find a fabric photo, then copy and paste it into a blank Word document. I resized the photos so I could paste them as a row of three repeats across. Each row of three becomes a printable swatch to cut out and play around with, like a mini bolt of fabric. I was able to get 5 swatch rows per page. Then I trimmed them each to a uniform size after printing.
Now obviously this is not like having the real fabrics in front of me, but I was surprised at how well they gave me a sense of color, pattern and relative scale. Certainly enough to help me decide which fabrics worked and which didn't. That's always my worry with e-ordering fabric.
Then I fiddled with arranging the swatches in various ways, until I found the sequence I liked, at top. Then a la Jane's Allotment quilt, I arranged them again in varying width stripes, at bottom. A very informative experiment and a fun diversion from housecleaning too.
Now, when I decide how much fabric I'll need, I can record my info and the order details on the back of each swatch. How uncharacteristically organized that will be! And these swatches are much more fun than solitaire, should I ever need a portable amusement.
When we bought our house three years ago, this was the "tiki hut" bedroom, much beloved by the previous owner's teenaged daughter. It was tastefully done, with the beach mural wallpaper on one wall. Straw matting with bamboo moldings covered all the other walls and ceiling, and grass skirting mounted on angled crown boards created the hut's "roof".
Sadly, the straw gave off dust and other allergens, enough that simply walking into the room started us sneezing. It was pretty dark and cavelike too. Thus, the tiki had to go.
But not such an easy task. Ripping the straw matting from the walls and ceiling was a dustfest. We were showered with hundreds of staples as it came away. Then came prying the bamboo moldings loose; they were nailed and sometimes glued for good measure. The grass skirting roof was torn down, and then all the angled crown boards had to be unscrewed from their 10 foot tall ceiling fastenings.
But we got that much done in the early months. Then came the supreme challenge... removing that beach mural. I have removed endless wallpaper of all sorts over the past 20+ years, but never anything like this.
As best we can tell, the mural was mounted with a heavy duty spray adhesive, seemingly designed to withstand any and every possible assault. In the end, it came down to first scraping & peeling the wallpaper away, an inch or two at a time. Over the past two years, as removal has slowly progressed, I've tried everything to remove the glue residue. (And I had to hang a bedsheet over the whole mess to keep my sons from getting their arms stuck to the wall while sleeping!)
Finally these past weeks, it took days of scraping, powersanding, scraping, more powersanding, over and over until most of the tackiness was gone from that one miserable wall. So now we've patched and primed all, and soon the room will be a fresh haven for my sons when they're in residence. "After" photos will follow in the next week or so when we finally finish the painting.
Escaping from the tiki rehab, Christmas has also been on my mind. Here and there I've stolen some fun time to test ideas for some new holiday stockings, done in the collage style of my bags. They're still works in progress, but here's a sneak peek for now.
At long last I have some progress to show on my hexagon afghan. So far I've joined 36 blocks over several rows, using the join-as-you-go method shown by Alex of Moonstitches and Lucy of Attic24 (their details varying slightly, I think). The wonderful detailed photos gave me courage to finally take the plunge, and I must say that once I'd made and joined a few blocks and gotten my aging brain wrapped around the logic of it, it's become very simple and straightforward.
The downside is that it's sometimes awkward to keep turning the block to stitch each of the six sides with the ever-growing body of the afghan attached. But the pleasure of seeing it come together far outweighs any awkwardness. This process has an entirely different vibe than the ripple afghan, but I find it equally satisfying.
A word of warning: crocheting gobbles up yarn very rapidly. I was so spoiled by how far a skein or two of yarn took me for my simple knitted scarves. For these afghans, unless you are going totally random/scrappy, buy from a shop where you can stock up on key color dye lots at the outset, and then return any unused skeins when you finish. Luckily for me, the ladies at Knit Happens had ordered more fresh "curry" wool than I'd asked for, and that definitely saved the day!