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triangle quilt for meg and josh

When I last posted, I had just finished knitting the lace batwing top to wear to a bridal luncheon during my cousin’s wedding weekend. Knitting that flared up my carpal tunnel so badly I knew I needed to take a long break from knitting. (I didn’t exactly do this, and I knit a few more little things. That? Was a super bad idea, and the pain has reached seriously frightening levels, so now I’m completely off knitting until I can get up the nerve to call a hand specialist. It sucks.) This means that I’ve actually been spending time watching TV while doing nothing at all—unfathomable for me normally, and so so boring. But it also means that there’s been a lot more quilting, because so far that hasn’t bothered my hands very much. First up? A wedding gift quilt for the two who got married in April!

isoscles triangle quilt

I’d asked my cousin for color preferences and she said “blues.” This necessitated a trip to some quilting shops for some stash development—how did I not have a good range of blues? Navies, khakis, greens, and purples actually matched their blue and khaki wedding colors, and it turns out they coordinate perfectly with the colors in their living room. I wanted to find a few “special” fabrics but came up empty on that front. However, the one cream with little oars was perfect for them, since they like to kayak often, and Jason donated a plaid shirt that never fit him so that he had a presence in the quilt too.

I have several different triangle rulers and opted for an isosceles one; I cut all the fabrics into triangles and tossed them into one of those big blue Ikea shopping bags, giving it a big mix regularly. Then I set up my flannel design wall and started building the rows by grabbing from the bag without getting caught up in planning the sequences. The only pieces that were immediately put back were ones identical to the one just placed. I ended up with a nice random arrangement, and just a little bit of rearranging at the end gave me a nice balance of colors, patterns, etc. Then I got to seaming!

Though it felt as if I had thousands of triangles, I’d really only cut enough to make the blanket throw sized, and once I realized this I couldn’t bear to cut any more or seam them up, so it is a modest 5-something feet by 5-something feet big. I am in awe of those who have made multiple triangle quilts. While simple in theory, it was a lot more time consuming than I’d expected it to be! I didn’t get the hang of matching my triangles for a long time, despite many attempts to systematize the process.

quilt backing

For the backing, I couldn’t resist my “signature” back, with a little stack of strips of the fabrics used on the front. The main fabric for the backing is Kona, not sure the exact name right now but I suspect it’s actually the color called “brown.” I embroidered their names and the date of their wedding right onto the back, rather than make a label, and I really like the effect. The binding is the same khakis used on the front (both Kona), hand-sewn down; I finally remembered to tuck my “by pepperknit” label into one corner. I quilted lines a half inch from all the seams and greatly underestimated the amount of thread I’d need to get this done; I ran out of two spools in the process! I also had some serious issues with the basting–lately I can’t seem to get my quilt sandwich to come out right on the first try. I’m not sure what is going wrong but I’m blaming the batting, because I know I’m doing a very good job taping the backing down. Should I be taping the batting too? Something is off and I really need to figure it out before I do my next quilt, because it’s not as if I didn’t rearrange my entire living room (separating our sectional sofa even) in order to have as much clear floor I could. Anyway, we’ll see if I can remedy this for my next quilt.

quilt label

I gave the quilt to Meg and Josh at our annual family beach week, just like I did for her brother last year, so we did a little shoot in the backyard of our beach house on the one rainy, cold, terrible weather day. And her husband proved that it’s the perfect couch blanket for curling up with a book. (Note: That is a different cousin sitting on the couch with him.) I hope they love it and enjoy a lifetime of curling up together under it!

isoscles triangle quilt

isosceles triangle quilt

a non-rhinebeck sweater!

I didn’t make the journey up to New York Sheep & Wool this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t knit something just in the nick of time! About three weeks ago, when the temperature finally started to change, my need for a new sweater overcame me. I started researching colorwork pullovers (inspired in large part by Julia’s newly released Hiro) but somehow ended up looking at solid patterns and stumbled on Madigan, a Melissa LaBarre pattern for Quince & Co. I knew I had the perfect yarn in my stash, so off I went to wind and swatch.

Fittingly, I bought this yarn (Stonehedge Fiber Mill‘s Shepherd’s Wool) at Rhinebeck two years ago, when I was eager to amass more sweater quantities of yarn. I was looking for a nice, wearable gray. I found, however, this bright blue. I think, in the madness that is shopping at Rhinebeck, I neglected to think this through, so I bought it even though I couldn’t exactly picture it in a sweater. “Sweater quantity? Sold!” This electric blue haunted me from its place on a shelf in my craft corner. Nothing ever seemed quite right. Then I found Madigan. It couldn’t be more perfect.

The sweater is a cinch to knit, but that doesn’t mean I actually managed to follow the directions. You know how you read over a pattern, start knitting, and feel confident you know what it told you? Yeah, that led to varying stitch counts, some uncalled-for plain knitting in the middle of the waist shaping, and likely not as many stitches in total at the hips. But you know what else? It led to a perfectly fitting sweater that I finished the Friday before Rhinebeck. Either I was lucky or I actually can successfully improvise a sweater after all these years.

Speaking of improvisation, my friends and I improvised our own Rhinebecky day in New York City, instead of driving 2.5 hours up to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We went to Knitty City, a crafts fair, and Central Park to approximate yarn booths and fall foliage. Just like at Rhinebeck, we took time for a photo shoot (this time Tania and Holly took my pictures, instead of Caro). But we also went shoe shopping, ate a calm and line-less brunch, and were home in time for dinner. So in some ways we improved on Rhinebeck! All that was missing were all the friends I didn’t get to hug. Next year, I’ll be back!

slow-cooked chinese short ribs

short ribs

I only have one picture of this dinner, but I think it’s all you need. My mom’s Chinese short ribs are a family favorite: she makes a giant batch whenever there’s a crowd to feed, and even when it’s just our nuclear family. She simmers them on the stovetop, but I thought they might be a good candidate for the slow cooker. A steaming bowlful is perfect on a chilly day, and the weather has JUST turned cool here in New York City.

When I saw that Fresh Direct now sells short ribs cut into thirds, the way my mom says is best for this dish, I immediately bought some and called mom in Norway to ask her how to make them. Of course, it was vague in the way that mom recipes are, but I tried to quantify it a bit. It’s so dead easy, you’re going to laugh.