Thursday, June 25, 2015

have a heart

I finally cast off this shawl! Last night, in an anticlimactic "ooh I'll just sit for a minute and see how much I can get done" moment the last stitch finally dropped off my needle. The pattern, Hearts on a String, somewhat escaped me in symbolism until I stretched out the lace to check out the final product. For some reason the heart stands out much more to me here than it does if the lace is slack - then it all just looks like leaves to me. 

It still has to be blocked, but I can say that I will likely really love it when it's done. The yarn is drapey and light, and as a bonus it is not wool, so I'm 100% not sensitive to it. (Don't ask me how my neck is doing after rocking my all-wool Color Affection shawl yesterday...) In the end I find that I'm not a great fan of lace knitting because it requires so much concentration, at least for me at this stage. It's hard to carry on a conversation or watch Wayward Pines. Baseball has been ok. Maybe I need more practice. Or maybe it's ok to not like lace knitting. The jury is out. Suffice to say that I just cast on a garter stitch project to take on vacation with me. 

Don't it look impressive though?! More to come after the block.

Friday, June 19, 2015

gettin' my granny on

It was more than a couple years ago when I first saw a scrappy granny square quilt while reading Blue Elephant Stitches. It certainly caught my eye and appealed to something rooted deep inside that loved the bright colors (of course) but very much the more traditional layout and block origin. Being equally drawn to the yarny arts, I have indeed made many a granny square in my time!! It seemed like a special tribute.

I filed it away in memory (aka Pinterest) always intending on figuring out how to make one using a jelly roll. As luck would have it, Jolene kindly read my mind and posted a tutorial on Moda Bake Shop describing exactly that! I had a jelly roll of Millie's Closet hanging around so I mentally lined that fabric up to be my granny square quilt material and promptly put it away for... a while. Of course I did!

Well now I've finally begun my granny square adventure! Aside from the fact that I've got a few quilts that need finishing (understatement), I had a hankering to start something new. Since the not so fun part of cutting most of the width-of-fabric strips was taken care of for me this quilt seemed like a great candidate for a quick fix.

Sure enough, I set to cutting bits and pieces and in a short while had stacks of strips adorning every surface. It took me some time to decide on which ones to match up to make each block, and in the end I really just sort of assigned randomly, but it was satisfying at the end of the day to end up with neat bundles all ready to go. These will make a quilt top, people! So excited. Cutting is my least favorite part.

That was maybe a couple weeks ago and now I've got the first stage of sewing strip sets together finished and most of those trimmed down to be sewn into the final block. I think these prints and colors are going to play really nicely with this pattern. I can't wait to see how it all turns out! I've got friends having littles soon, so this may end up as a special surprise for a mom-to-be when it's finished.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

hexagon happenings

Back in February I brought out the pieces of my niece's quilt to decide on a layout and a plan for finishing it by Christmas. I mentioned then that I might make a few more blocks which would enable me to make the whole quilt a hexagon. I've decided that's a neat idea and that's the way I'm going to head with it. I ordered some solid fabric for the interstitial triangles and managed to make two of the remaining four blocks this weekend.

I'm really happy with them! I'm also happy that I had the instructions for these all written up and handy. I would never have been able to re-engineer them otherwise. The hardest part was sifting through my fabrics for the right combinations of prints and colors. And of course the endless problem of not enough solids to pick from.

This was the first set of prints I came up with. Lively, no? 

I really enjoyed how awesome this triangle unit looked after I pressed all the seams. Look at how lined up everything is! It's not even trimmed. Or sewn with pins. That's how handy trimming just a tiny triangle off at the correct point and angle can be (also described in the block instructions). Everything just lines up so much easier. 

Adding the pretty celery green toned this whole block down. Still lively, but a little bit contained. This way it looks to me like a little flower garden. Imagine if I'd used black or dark gray… it would look much edgier. What about a whole quilt of that?! Nice, I'd say. 

Instead I opted to use the dark gray in this block to offset the relatively lighter, simpler prints. I wasn't sure how the ricrac stripe would behave in this block, but it ended up looking kind of neat. I am glad I decided not to try using it for the center, though. I don't think that would have worked out as well. 

I only need two more blocks made up and my navy fabric, then I can start assembling the top. My mom volunteered to make a couple for me, which will be fun! Mom, it's your turn now! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

quilting win

I am pleased with myself. Can you tell? I'm all smiles because I am so close to finishing up my cousin's quilt. It's a little behind schedule! 

I wasn't sure how the quilting on this was going to go as I was piecing everything together. My go-to would have been horizontal lines but that felt unimaginative to me for this one. Still, I didn't want it to compete that much with the panel in the middle because darn it I'm proud of that part! 

An idea descended one evening when I decided to quilt it in a sort of sunburst pattern to tie in with the trendy tribal vibe. Basically I have a set of nested V's going North, South, East, and West radiating out from the center of the squash blossom block. It's genius. Not only that, but I totally lucked out and picked 3 inches as the spacing. Why lucky? Because somehow I intuited the exact spacing that would line up my quilting lines with most of the features on the central medallion panel. It's not a big deal, but satisfying that it ended up that way. 

Dave was kind enough to venture outside with me on a somewhat windy day to snap these pictures. You have to wait until the quilt just floats on the wind like a seagull. Apparently that's the ideal moment. In this picture of the back it's easier to see the quilting pattern. It's not complicated, but it really looks great. I started each line in the middle and stitched out to the edge to avoid any directional stretching or slippage. 

I was hoping to use the backing as binding but it turns out I basted a bit to close to one edge for that to be a viable option. Darn. I'll have to look around and see if I have a suitable binding fabric to finish it off this week. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

backed and basted

I went to baste this quilt last Thursday evening and wasn't I frustrated when I found that I had neither enough scraps/coordinating fabrics to piece together a back nor a big enough single piece of anything but white. Somehow white and baby quilt back didn't jive in my mind. 

So today we zipped into a fabric store to find an appropriate print for the back. I found this great navy with tiny white polka dots. The navy is a sightly different shade than the one on the front, but it wasn't really noticeable to me until I took this picture. 

I cut some batting from one of the queen-sized pieces I had stashed away. (I buy batting when it goes on sale, especially the big sizes. They are great to cut down to size for multiple smaller projects like this.) Dave helped me wrangle the sandwich together and I managed to baste it while the laundry was drying. Yeah for multi-tasking. I've got a vision of Vs for quilting. We'll see how that goes!

Friday, April 24, 2015

finished a quilt top!

In a fit of cutting and sewing last night, I managed to finish up the top to the baby quilt I started a couple weeks ago. It took me some time to decide on what to do to finish off the medallion, but I kept coming back to the thin round of bright red-orange to frame it, so I just started there.

When that was finished, the strips of hourglass blocks just sort of mentally clicked into place. I had been considering all sorts of things, but this block - simple but striking - suits the piece in terms of scale and feel. I'm really glad I added in the light green. I was originally going to keep this a slant rhyme to primary colors, but the green sets everything off so nicely.

I wasn't sure I was quite finished there at 38" wide or so, but when I took out the stripe I have been planning on using to test how everything was looking together and it was basically within an inch or two, I considered that serendipity and a sign that I was done. How frustrated I would have been if I had kept going wider! I've had the gray stripe in my head since the whole thing started. It was quick work to cut two big pieces and zip down the seams to append them to the top and bottom of the panel. And voila! A finished quilt top. I've already got an idea of how I want to quilt it. I just need to pick out a backing and figure out what I'll do for binding. Excited to see this come together!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

improvised medallion

I have a few baby quilts to make, so this should help me get going on the sewing again. This first one needs to be done by early May so I'd better get hopping. I read through a few of my pattern books for inspiration but ended up deciding to pick out some fabric first rather than the pattern. I have lots of girly fabrics, but don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl so I need to stick with something more universal. I found my stash of leftover pieces from a quilt I made for my friend Anna a couple years ago. I added a navy print to the light red, yellow, and blue and voila I found my color scheme.

I've been following, though not participating in, the Red Sky at Night quilt along at Tales of Cloth, and the Squash Blossom block has been on my mind. I think the pattern is in line with the trendy tribal things I've been seeing around the internets lately, and I've been hankering to try it out. 

I ended up with about a 17.5" block after I added the sashing, which will make a nice center piece for a crib-sized quilt. I'm thinking I'll go with 42" x 54" or thereabouts so I can get away with not piecing a backing. It was pretty simple to put together, I made a bunch of HSTs and then trimmed the rest of the squares I'd cut to match the finished HST size. (No planning here! Just winging it!) In the original squash blossom block, there are a few rectangles but I just pieced a couple of squares together since I already had them cut. 

I made a bunch more HSTs for the first round using light red and navy. The fun thing about HSTs is there are so many ways to arrange them! Originally in my head I had decided to set them all in a sawtooth pattern, but upon flipping things around multiple times to see which color should go where, I landed on this arrangement. I've got a nice gray stripe picked out as the background, but I am trying to decide on maybe one more round and a couple more design elements on either side to achieve the overall width I want. I'm actually really pleased with how this is looking so far. I've got a couple more weeks to finish it so stay tuned for the wrap.