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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
There’s this, which got a teeny tiny pop of color as an embellishment the other day (and will be photographed in full soon).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
Last weekend, my knitting best friends and I got together for another weekend away. This was the tenth time we’ve done it! It’s only the fifth time we’ve swapped something—and this round, a crafter’s choice, I got to make for JulieFrick! Because it was our tenth meetup, I chose to make a big “X” mini quilt, in colors that I thought she would like. Well, I thought she would like them after we created a spreadsheet to note favorite colors, and she specified “I like most all colors when they’re a bit “off” of their standard rainbow-bright versions.” This required some serious stash-digging, because when I stopped to think about it, I like colors specifically when they are bright!
It’s just a basic string quilt, but I did it as a quilt as you go, using wavy quilting lines (I neglected to take a close-up shot). This was the first time I’d made an actual quilt using QAYG, so the backing part was a stumbling block. (Every other QAYG I’ve done was a pillow top.) I decided to do a whole cloth backing and stitch in the ditch along the “X” to hold it all together. We liked its flatness so opted not to wash it. The binding is a slightly darker shade of the stone color I used for the X (both Kona cottons, from fat quarter packs, so I have no idea what the color names are).
I decided the piece needed a really great label to commemorate the occasion. I designed this in Photoshop using various fonts, which I then traced onto some Kona and stitched using embroidery floss. “Celebrate” probably could have used a bit of a different treatment, but it feels pretty festive! It was fun to stitch it up. When I have the time to devote to the label, I am always happy with the results. I should start planning the labels first!
I love that I got to give this to Julie in person. She’s one of the most interesting and passionate people I know—I learn so much about how to be a better person from Julie. She makes amazing jams and other preserves, can knit and crochet anything she wants, and works tirelessly in service for the good of the world. How lucky am I to be her friend! I feel that way about every one of these women, actually: They’re my people. I learn from them, maybe I help them learn some things, and I trust them implicitly. We spend these weekends eating amazing meals, knitting/crocheting/stitching, and sharing deep—and truly shallow—conversations (this time, while bobbing in the pool). We are already planning our 11th weekend away, and I cannot wait.