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. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

solid as a rock

Well, I finally did it. I bought color cards for solid fabric. I've been frustrated at my lack of solids hanging around my stash, and equally frustrated with the selection of solids at the fabric store I can get to easiest. I'm picky enough about colors that taking a chance on ordering online without knowing the color is not a great idea for me. So with this solution I can buy online with confidence that I'm going to get the shade I'm hoping for and take advantage of the sales and selection.


I got the Kona color card with all 303 colors on it (wow that's a lot of choice!) and the Moda Bella color card with something like 240. I think with a choice of 543 different colors I can make anything work, don't you?


I ended up getting both cards just to get over the free shipping offer limit, which I did by 5 cents. Go me. The reason being 1) I hate paying shipping, I'm happier if it's just factored into an overall higher price and 2) I also bought this:


That lovely stack is a fat quarter bundle of Mustang from Cotton and Steel. I've been holding out getting any new fabric for a looooong time, but this was on super good sale and how can I resist a fabric line with those colors, horses, and bees all in one great place? Exactly. I couldn't. PLUS perfect addition to the color card costs to get free shipping. Serendipity.


I'm looking forward to testing these color cards out on future projects, most notably I want to get some navy fabric for my Lonestar Hexagon quilt. Of course, that means I will have to consider all 20 of my options very carefully….

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

groovin

Despite what the frequency of posts may indicate, February and March were not months without crafting. On the contrary, I just was not inspired to write because I didn't think I was doing much. Now that it's April and I've had a short bout of Spring cleaning, I have a few of these projects gathered together and I realized that I have been creating, just in a slow and steady way rather than my past flurries of making. I'm still getting back into my groove, I suppose. I got out of the habit of sewing while I was working in Sacramento and it's taking some time to shift back from the long bouts of knitting despite the fact that I want to play with fabric. Isn't that odd? Since we redid the office, I have to find a new way of navigating my fabric play time. I can't have my card table and sewing machine out in the middle of the room anymore because this is actually a place where Dave needs to come and accomplish things.

So in the spirit of transitions, I have a couple of knitting projects and a small foray back into sewing to share. This first project I started shortly after Valentine's Day because I'd been craving a maroon *something* to wear around my neck. I hope I'll still be craving maroon next winter because it is now well into Spring.  


It will be a triangle-shaped shawl that I'm sure will look great wrapped as a scarf. The pattern is meant to look like repeated hearts, which I'm sure will take shape when the lace is all blocked out. It's fun to work on, though hard to talk to others when doing so. I made a lot of progress during downtime at a work retreat last week when I could sit quietly on my balcony to recharge my social batteries during longer breaks. Quite a ways to go though!


This next piece is exciting … it's the back to my Aidez sweater that I've been working on for a long time. I'm a little bit afraid it will be too long (my gauge must have increased since I swatched) but I'm going to power through and see how it turns out. Even if it doesn't fit quite how I imagined, I'm sure it will still be a cozy sweater and I will learn a lot from finishing all of the pieces and assembling them. If it turns out it's way too big for me, I'll be happy to donate it because it's going to be epic and awesome and someone should get to enjoy it. Just look at all those cables.


These little lovelies are for my niece's quilt. I ambitiously decided to make an EPP quilt and enlisted the help of an online quilting bee last January. I've lost track of one of the blocks, which annoyed me enough that I haven't wanted to work on this for quite some time. I've decided I'm over it (sort of) and am going to get on with my quilt-y life so I can finish both this and my Lonestar Hexagon quilt for Christmas presents this year. There I said it. This year! It's going to happen. At any rate, I found my hand stitching kit and put it next to a particularly comfy chair, which has motivated me to baste a few hexagons here and there. 


There are, as always, a few more things in the works but these are the latest things I've had my hands on. It's good to take stock every so often, and I'm glad I remembered WIP Wednesdays exist so I could link up and share!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

horsey accoutrements

Barns are full of dust. That's a fact any horse person can tell you. A friend of mine, quite some time ago now, said out loud while hanging her helmet "I need a helmet bag, kind of like yours maybe" and just like that I decided to make one. Mine isn't at all fancy, just a black knit bag that came with the helmet when I bought it. 


Making my own was not all that complicated, actually, it really is just a simple drawstring bag. I decided to line this one because I wanted to use a quilting cotton for color and that just seemed too thin to use unlined. I used my helmet bag as a template for a couple of fabrics I thought might suit her. On the inside is a gray polyester that I think will actually 'repel' dust and grime quite nicely. The outside is a great navy and cream print that reminds me of her barn name, Sapphire Farm. The bag is technically reversible, but it is easier to slip a helmet in and out with the gray polyester on the inside.


I've had bundles of this heavy duty cording around forever and I'm always tickled when I can find a use for such things. It justifies the storage space, so to speak. I fudged some hand stitching around the openings where the cords come out and I'm sure given the other wear and tear this is likely to take, that won't be a big deal. Next time though I will have to plan my seams better. I improvised my way into that problem. :) 


I started this so long ago and finally sat down to put the cord in and "fudge" the aforementioned final touches on today. I'm excited to give it to her this weekend, as I'm sure she's forgotten all about it and will be surprised!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

considering

In August 2013 I posted a tutorial for a Lonestar Hexagon block to be made by my quilting bee mates at the time. Yikes time flies! It took some time to receive the blocks (in fact, two never got here - sad sauce) but really most of the gap between then and now was me putting it away and taking a break from quilting. 

Now I'm ironing and trimming. :) 


I had quite a few wrinkles to get out and 60 sides to trim to get these bad boys approximating regular hexagons. When I start sewing them together we will see just how good of a job I did! I think looking back it was quite brave (read: naive) of me to put away blocks with potentially distortable edges for so long. Any block can stretch out if not treated gently, but triangles and diamonds? My goodness. All I have to do is look at it and think "stretch". 

We all made from our stashes following general guidelines for colors. I really enjoy seeing everyone's interpretations of a single color scheme and all the pretty fabric combinations in these blocks. Originally I pictured in my head a more unified color palette, but I love the crazy quilt feel of this now!


I played with these on the floor (aka my 'design wall') for a while before I got to a place where I liked the relative positions and mixture of colors. Now I'm just trying to decide on a layout. I started out thinking I would sew them all together plain and simple but then wanted the quilt to end up bigger. Then I considered sashing between all the blocks which would look neat, but then I turned the blocks 30 degrees and put them all point to point. I'm kind of liking this idea. I would cut a bunch of equilateral triangles to fill in those gaps and end up with a secondary star pattern - a star-within-a-star if I'm imagining it correctly. Might be kind of cool! 

I'm hoping to make it a twin-sized quilt for my niece's birthday in April. Maybe Christmas! Now that I'm looking at it, I'm wondering if should make 4 more blocks and add columns of two on each side to make it a hexagon quilt…. anyone want to help? :) Maybe I should get my triangles sewn into what I have so far first.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

out of hibernation

What's that I spy? A long lost knitting project peeking out to make its presence known? Why hello there, Aidez, it's been so long since I've seen you. 


I haven't touched this project since January 2013 when, a few months after starting it, my primary goal was to knit through enough of the pattern to decide if the yarn was a good match and it seemed like something I could reasonably do given my skill level. I did, and I liked it, but in the whirlwind of wrapping up my Ph.D. and diving headlong into my policy fellowship, a complicated cable sweater pattern just didn't' seem like something I wanted to tackle. 


Fast forward to now: thesis done, fellowship experienced, and new job well underway. I've finished quite a few longtime in-progress projects the last few months and decided it was time to pick this one back up to continue the trend. Turns out the activation barrier was purely mental and it's not that complicated of a piece to work on. I can't really heavily multitask while working on it, but certainly it's ok to watch an episode of Arrow while knitting.


I'm already through half of the back and still itching to get my hands back on it each day. That's a good sign and one I hope will mean progress will continue at a steady pace. Similar to projects with stripes, this pattern makes me want to keep working "just one more row" to see the center latticework emerge. Like Dory in Finding Nemo, just keep stitching. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

tide pool

This arrangement of yarn and stitches is reminding me of some of the tide pools down in Monterey Bay.


Metaphor aside, I've made some significant progress on Fomhar since December. The whole central panel is finished. This is still my slow and steady in between project, but I'm excited to see what this looks like when it blocks out. It will certainly grow, and all of the little lace details will really open up and show off this yarn. 


I'm getting better at reading complex charts for sure. The final border section of this pattern may have some mistakes in the written pattern (according to several Ravelry folks) so I'm hoping to refer primarily to the charts from here on out but boy do they sometimes get confusing! I'm on to the first border section which is more lacy little fans. Still loving the yarn and the pattern choice.