wonky star / sparkle punch quilt

pepperknit | wonky sparkle punch

Some quilts hurt more than others to give away. Baby quilts, much as I love them, have no use for me personally so they can be given with no qualms. But full-size quilts could easily be incorporated into my life (in fact, the one for Patrick and Katie was finished long before I gave it to them, and I actually used it on the couch myself for… months (I washed it again before wrapping it!)). And this one, with so many different fabrics that have a tiny back story for me, well, it was hard to give it away to my cousin and new cousin-in-law to celebrate their wedding.

There are fabrics here that I used in Holly’s quilt, ones I bought while on vacation, some that were given to me by thoughtful friends, others that I particularly love for one reason or another . . . In sum: I love it.

pepperknit | wonky sparkle punch

I deliberately used two different khaki shades as the background fabric for the stars, to give it a vintage/scrappy sort of feel. I chose a color palette that was overall coordinated and sort of muted, with all colors represented. At the edges I got a chance to use some fabrics that I only had one square of from a charm pack—I’m particularly pleased with using one black-and-white print in the lower right corner. Something about having injected some actual black into this quilt makes me really satisfied.

The quilting actually goes in both diagonal directions, though now that I see it in pictures I see that one direction is far more dominant! I used different threads and I think one was heavier than the other. One was khaki/off white and the other was blue. Why? Because I had enough of each! I’m happy to report that the quilting went infinitely better than it has for me in recent quilts. I changed as many variables as possible: I spray glue-basted the backing (but for some reason pin-basted the front. don’t ask.). I remembered to put the more table surface thingy on my machine. I was sure to wear my quilting gloves. I used a superior brand of batting. I got no puckers when I went across the first parallel quilting lines—everything just sort of worked right out the gate! I look forward to doing it all again for a future quilt and seeing if I’ve solved my quilting issues.

pepperknit | quilt binding

The binding is pieced with two fabrics: both khaki backgrounds, one with circles and the other with small polka dots. The backing is a completely different neutral (with a very pink undertone—I didn’t think that would work on the front) with my “signature” stripe block.

pepperknit | quilt back

The label, added after I took these pictures, has, I hope, special meaning to the bride, as I was inspired by a photo she posted online months ago. She went to a The xx concert and posted a picture of this quote, which was printed just like this on a pillowcase. I pulled the photo into Photoshop and resized it to what I wanted and traced it onto the fabric. I thought the sentiment was beautifully appropriate for a wedding gift, right? In case you can’t read it, it says “Being as in love with you as I am.” I know nothing about music, though (The xx… who?), so I had to Google this phrase to even know what song it was from. I added the date of their wedding and a little “love, Erin” to complete the label. It was stitched with black perle cotton on a piece of Kona that I, um, not too precisely folded into a “square” before affixing it. I put it in the lower right corner; the picture on the right below might give you a sense for where it is.

pepperknit | embroidered quilt label with a quote

pepperknit | quilt

I wrapped it up in a simple ribbon and brought it with me to the wedding, and I was sorely tempted to tear it open and wrap up in it when the temperature dropped after the sun set! If I’d done so, I may well have just left with it. Instead I’m going to have to plan a quilt like this for myself.

les monts verts!

It was my friend Beth’s birthday, and never did you meet a more loyal Vermonter. She goes home whenever she can, but I figured she could use a little reminder when she’s in New York, too.

state of vermont embroidery

So I embroidered her a little Vermont, with a heart over her hometown. It was a simple little stitching project, but I must say this is the best satin stitch I’ve ever achieved! I carefully outlined the water first, then worked the satin stitch over that boundary. I suppose I’ve seen that that is the “correct” way to do it but I confess I haven’t always. I held the floss double for it but it didn’t need a lot of passes to look really filled in. I freehanded the heart and it came out pretty good, too. The frame is 3×5, and I sized the state’s outline to fit within that dimension.

state of vermont embroidery

knit mama + baby monsters

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

Pardon me while I gush over the cuteness I have brought into the world. Yeah yeah yeah someone had an adorable baby and it’s a miracle, new life, perfect boy—LOOK AT THE CUTENESS HERE. Rebecca Danger‘s adorable pattern for Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster is so simple, so mindless, and yet pays off such rewards!

I used Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (full disclosure: I, ahem, took this yarn home with me after we shot it for the Yarn Market News cover with the owls. So yeah, I got it free but it’s not like they expected me to knit with it), which I am currently obsessed with for baby toys. It is SO squishy and soft, and being bulky it knits up fast and makes things satisfyingly large. I used it for the hedgehogs, but have so much remaining that I also used it with this pair. I don’t really know how  big this was supposed to be, but Mama came in at 12 inches tall and her baby is 5.5 inches tall. I embellished the pocket just a touch, with a little free-hand surface crocheted heart out of Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag yarn. I love its luster and shine.

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

I crocheted the little black eye discs out of Universal Yarns’ crochet thread, and on Mama I added some white to simulate button eyes. I know baby toys shouldn’t have buttons for risk of choking but I’m telling you, a baby who puts this alpaca in his mouth is going to be in for a rude surprise! Best to hug it and squish it and use it as a pillow, I think.

It’s going to be hard to pack these two up in a box and ship them out, but the baby is here early so I need to get on this! Expect to see more monsters from me—I’ve got a copy of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters, and I’m not afraid to use it!

everything I’m knitting is gray

After a childhood spent wanting to blend into the background as much as was humanly possible—plain, solid non-eye-catching clothing only, please—I’ve come to love color. I wear a lot of different colors, in defiance of the “New Yorkers only wear black” dictum (and heck, I’m not an orignal NYer anyway; I’ve “only” lived here 8 years!). Nearly all of my coats are a bold color. (Though all my clothing is generally still solid. Some things never change.)

But sometimes, goddammit, you just want a gray cardigan. Or a sweater that isn’t such a “statement.” So you start to opt for grays when you’re amassing yarn, whether in a sweater’s quantity or a single skein to contrast with a fun color (in all those two-color shawls, for example). You request a gray cardigan for Christmas (and get two). And then suddenly the next thing you know, all you seem to have is gray yarn on the needles.

surface crochet heart

There’s this, which got a teeny tiny pop of color as an embellishment the other day (and will be photographed in full soon).

gray wip

There’s this, a sweater I started back in March but haven’t worked on since I changed back to knitting English to help my hand pain. This one was started Continental, and I feel as though I should only do it that way lest I have a visible tension change. I’m about 3 inches from done (THREE INCHES) but can’t seem to get back to it (also it hurts too much to work on). It’s going to be cute but kind of dressy, and I so rarely put on actual clothing these days that there’s no real impetus to get it done.

gray wip

And there’s this one, which I’m knitting English specifically in response to the one above, and which I had knit a ton of before taking a hard look and realizing that I was knitting far tighter than I had on the swatch, and it was coming out super small. So I frogged and started over (while at the beach) and have been slowly slogging away at the stockinette ever since. I like having this one on hand, though, because it doesn’t require any thought at all.

colors

But then I’ve got this sitting waiting to be seamed up—I should really take a break from all the gray and play with this loveliness!

a sweet granny square baby quilt

There’s no denying that Pinterest has helped me as a sewer. With no central location like Ravelry to go to, it’s hard to see a lot of quilts or garments in one place to gather inspiration and ideas. My “Quilty Inspiration” board is one of my favorites to revisit. I can see trends in my own liking (I started out loving on total rainbow quilts, have moved to different palettes lately), and I can also see that there are certain blocks/quilts that are executed in ways that I prefer over others using the same basic design. Sometimes it’s really easy to see what I like about one execution over another (modern color combinations, say). Sometimes it’s easy to see but hard to know how to execute (some kaleidoscope quilts work SO WELL and others don’t; I know it’s about the tone of the fabrics but picking fabrics to do it seems intimidating). For granny squares, I seemed to like a certain type and not others. What was the defining characteristic, I wondered.

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

It was the outer ring’s paleness/quantity of white. I liked the quilts best when the granny was treated as a series of concentric rings, and when the outer ring’s contrast with the background fabric wasn’t overly stark, whether because of the high quantity of white or the color of the square. This gave those quilts a sort of “instant vintage” quality, and I definitely wanted that for this baby quilt. So I set about making a bunch those kinds of blocks myself. It wasn’t super easy (and I’m sure you’re all eyeing that block in the lower left and saying ‘hmmmm you didn’t want a stark contrast, you say?’ Whatever, it can’t be EXACT.) but it was a fun exercise. I used up a decent amount of scraps to make it, too, which was satisfying. It also used up every last inch of Kona Snow I had in my stash. In fact, the outer ring of sashing is a white cotton batiste I used as a lining in my Cambie dress; the difference is more tactile than anything and I’m totally fine with that because I was NOT going to buy more fabric just to finish this top! The colors I chose are gender neutral by design, with a mix of all the colors of the rainbow—but all generally softer, more baby.

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

Because my ability to successfully baste has left me, despite all the best precautions (I starched the top this time! It was suuuper flat!), I wasn’t keen on too much machine quilting. I just did some machine passes in the sashing to get it all held together, and then I hand-quilted around each motif and the center square. I picked hand-quilting colors based on the colors in the blocks, and had a lot of fun doing that part. I still need more practice to be good at hand quilting but in some ways I like the truly handmade look of it.

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

Backing is a whole piece of fabric in a fun polka dot—I like when a quilt is small enough to be ale to do that! (And I’m really happy to be slashing up my stash so expertly.) The binding is a cheerful Kona yellow (not sure which shade). The label was just hand-written with washable marker and then stitched in some black perle cotton. I love that it’s my own handwriting (OK, a stitched version of my handwriting, so it’s a little weird but pretty close) and says nothing more than what I mean. I am so happy for my friends who are expecting this little one, and can’t wait to be Aunt Erin to their kid, even if from afar (they live across the country from me).

simple handwritten quilt label

I mailed this quilt (via just USPS, what was I thinking! I should have gotten tracking info!) so it would arrive in time for the baby shower; happily the host of the shower tells me it arrived safe and sound. Yesterday was the shower, so I think I can safely post these pictures today!