posts tagged: bees

a starry bee quilt

wonky star quilt

When the online quilting bee that made this quilt started years ago, I had pretty much zero quilting experience, much less bee experience. In retrospect, I committed a huge quilting bee faux pas when I made my request! Luckily, this bee was formed with really good crafty friends who didn’t mind. And you know what? I don’t regret it in the slightest, because it made me a quilt that means so much more to me. So what gaffe did I commit?

I asked everyone to use fabric from their own stashes to produce the main motifs. I provided a generous amount of background fabric and asked them to sew a 12-inch wonky star that, from afar, you would identify as a star of a single color (even if individual fabrics were made up of many different colors). I made no limitations other than no neutrals/blacks. There was no requirement that they use lots of different fabrics in a given block—a single fabric star would’ve been fine.

But what I got was a treasure trove! The feedback was all positive—and because I erred on the side of far more background fabric than was really necessary, many made me more than the 3 blocks the bee specified. In the end I was given 27 amazing blocks in all colors from Maritza, Caro, Nova, Diana, Julie, Christy, and Pam. And I can look at any given star and know exactly who made it, which I love. I needed to make just 3 more myself to complete a 5×6 top. I played around with their placement, starting random and ending with the rainbow of goodness you see here:

wonky star quilt layout

I captioned that photo “swoon” at the time (back in 2010!!) and I still feel that way when I look at this picture. My love for this quilt in progress was huge! But making those last 3 blocks just . . . didn’t happen. Two years later, in the spring of 2012, I pulled the fabric out, filled in those gaps with stars in the right colors, cut sashing and made a backing and all that. (I made three wonky stars for the back, too.) The quilt was suddenly enormous—just shy of a true queen size. I decided it would be perfect for our bedding at beach week, so then I was racing to finish up. I ran into a wrinkle, literally, when the quilting started catching puckers on the straight lines, so I only machine quilted the sashing and decided to hand-quilt an echo around the stars. But I’d never hand-quilted before, so I was going to need to amass supplies. I went ahead and sewed on the binding and was hand-sewing it down in the car on the way to Jersey (the hand quilting wasn’t going to be near the edges, so I could bind it before finishing the actual quilting).

We stopped at a JoAnn Fabrics on the way, where I bought hand quilting thread, needles, etc. At the beach I went online and researched how to hand quilt. We were using the quilt on our bed, but every morning I scooped it up, brought it downstairs, and quilted in the living room before we went up to the beach for the day. I learned a lot about hand quilting in that week, and while I enjoyed doing it, I have lots of practice ahead of me to be actually good at it. I didn’t quite finish quilting all the stars while we were there, so there was no triumphant photo shoot like I’d intended.

After we got back, I finished, but by then we were using it on our bed and I just never got around to photographing it. I still love it to pieces: We keep it on the couch in winter and use it on our own bed in the summer. So we brought it to the beach again this year, and on our last day I finally had the photo shoot! Big thanks to Jason and my dad for holding it on what was, as you can see, a super windy day.

wonky star quilt back

These pictures give you the overall sense of the quilt but sadly they can’t capture the awesome of each individual star. They’re endlessly interesting to look at, with choice fabrics used in small amounts and even some fun “I spy” elements that my boyfriend thinks are great, like the gnome, the bus, and the shaky dogs! I couldn’t resist taking pictures of each block so you could see them a little better. Click on a row below to see that row bigger.

wonky star quilt stars

wonky star quilt stars

wonky star quilt stars

wonky star quilt stars

wonky star quilt stars

wonky star quilt stars

 

I hope you enjoyed my wonky star quilt in this Blogger’s Quilt Festival! I’m entering it in the Bee Quilt Category.

finished in 2012

I almost didn’t do a wrap-up this year, but I just realized that I have done one every year for many many years now and why should I suddenly stop? First up, my knitting accomplishments for the year:

finished knits

Who knew I was able to complete so much while at the same time whining about not being “able to knit” because of my thumb pain? There really isn’t such a dearth of knitting, is there? There are two missing projects: one is a design I did for a book that’s not coming out for a while yet so I probably shouldn’t show it to you anyway. I also knit a hat for a work giveaway that I didn’t document at all. Those coffee cup cozies were a little thing I did for Knit Simple magazine. They assigned me cozies, and I couldn’t decide which pattern to submit, so I showed Editor in Chief Carla Scott all of them, and she said “yes! we’ll do all three!” Ha.

I like that you can see how I used the same yarn for my Buckwheat as the hat for Carol; I should start making hats out of all my leftover yarn! Thanks again are due to Caro Sheridan for the photo shoots we were able to do this year, for Buckwheat, the Bulky Topper, and the green hat!

I’d declared 2012 “the year of the quilt” and I wasn’t wrong. It was definitely a year of sewing. With my injured thumb, it was far less painful to sew, so our entire dining room area was pretty much unusable as a place of eating. (“Be careful! Don’t spill on that!” gets old fast.) Here are all my quilty endeavors (plus an embroidery project that I never blogged):

year in quilt

That lion embroidery? I made that for my dear friend’s baby; because mom and I met while taking yoga together 6 days a week for a few years, I added “simhasana” to the embroidery (the Sanskrit for lion pose) and stitched the little lion’s tongue sticking out (like you do in the pose). Just a little touch of something personal, and a really cute result. The one in the lower right has yet to be shot in daylight, but that will come soon, and the one in the middle on the bottom actually is basically finished and has been in use but has never been photographed! I need to get on that. The quilting that I did this year was mostly on my tiny machine, but I did do a mix of machine and hand quilting on the star quilt that hasn’t been blogged. I feel really confident in my skills as a quilter now, too, so I’m really happy with what I did this year.

Earlier in the year the last of my bees finished up, so I have some bee blocks in my catalog of finished stuff:

year in bees

I wasn’t good at documenting these, actually. And in fact, I may have never fully finished the Dresden plate in the bottom middle, but I don’t remember where I put the blocks-in-progress! (This is what happens when I actually clean the apartment.) I’m so glad that I participated in a total of 3 bees. You really gain so much skill and knowledge so quickly. I know that bees are tricky—I mean, you’re trusting other people to have the same standards and skills as you—but I also enjoyed being exposed to so many different kinds of blocks and ways of approaching a quilt. Actually, in my finished quilt mosaic are two of the bee quilts that I had made: the picnic blanket came from my Twitter Bee, and the stars (the unfinished one in the mosaic) was from KBeeC, a bee among my KBC friends. The third bee, the Solid 6, comprises most of my finished bee blocks in the mosaic above… But I picked a block for everyone to make that it turns out I really don’t like very much. I’m torn as to what to do with the blocks that were made for me, so I’m sitting on them until the right idea comes along.

What’s up for this year? Well, the month of January is going to be basically a rest from quilting. I’ve got two business trips, we have houseguests, and I’m just, I must confess, tired. I like having a clear dining room table! I’m enjoying just sitting on the couch watching TV when I get home—plus lately I’m so busy I get home late from work. But I’m sure when I’m back from TNNA things will come back—I intend this to be the year of sewn clothing! (Something that, despite having taken classes on the subject more than once, I am still quite intimidated by.) But I still have a bunch of quilt ideas swirling around in my brain that I can’t wait to make real. There will always be knitting, too, of course, don’t worry. Just this morning I bound off on a long-suffering project—stay tuned!

meet Bob and his brother, Bob

My three quilting bees are pretty much all wrapped up now (I think one person still has to take her turn!) and I’m finally (finally!) finishing up all my blocks. I started out gangbusters on bee blocks, completing them within the allotted month every time, but then the job and life got a lot more busy, the apartment was rearranged, and I slacked off something awful.

Luckily, my bee partners have been pretty forgiving.

My most recent bee blocks finished were for Chawne, a quilter/knitter/crocheter extraordinaire. This is the second time I’ve made blocks for Chawne, actually. I should blog the others! (I’ll get to it.) This bee we called the “Twitter Bee Solid Six” because we were all keen on making all-solid quilts after our first bee together, the Twitter Bee. Only six of us wanted to participate in this offshoot, so we decided to make it a six-month-long one, giving 2 months for each person.

Bob 1

Chawne asked us to make block-size versions of her quilt pattern, named Bob. (Each of these blocks is 16.5 inches square.) She designed this and wrote it up for Fat Quarterly, but shared the details with us. The smallest squares have a finished measurement of 1-inch square, so precision is key. It was a lot of careful cutting and sewing, and I did a pretty good job I think! Some of those seams don’t line up exactly, I know, but a lot of them do!

Bob 2

The fabrics are shot cottons; Chawne provided something like 30 different colors to each of us! I wonder how she’s going to combine them all…