A long weekend away with my knitting besties? Just what the doctor ordered. We made our way to a cabin in West Virginia for three days of 80s movies (on VHS no less), bacon, birthdays, knitting, cross stitch, and nature.
I didn’t knit a single stitch, giving my thumb a nice long rest; instead I cross-stitched and embroidered. At night I slept in the top bunk over Caro and listened to the rain fall on the roof in a darkness that I cannot find here in Brooklyn without an eye mask. Mornings, I made lemon-ricotta pancakes. One day we went blackberry picking, which JulieFrick later made into a cobbler. Pam devoted 11 avocados to her amazing guacamole. Nova finished a shawl, while Specs finished a legwarmer and a cross stitch project (that’s for me!). Heather spoke to us in French and kept us stocked with wine. We celebrated Christy and Julie’s birthdays (and Diana and Ashley’s, in absentia). Caro made us her famous Mephistopheritas (Margaritas with habanero-infused tequila). We went out at midnight in the 50-degree night and craned our necks to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We laughed until it hurt.
Yesterday I finally—finally, as this blanket was begun 2 years ago!—debuted a picnic blanket that was made for me by friends, using materials bought with friends, and that will probably always be used in the company of friends!
Two summers ago, Andréa and a few others of us got to talking on Twitter about having our own bee. There’d been a handful of bees amongst knitbloggers already, but this one brought together a new group of crafty folk—some experienced quilters and some novices. My month was right in the middle, and I chose the disappearing 9-patch. On a trip to the burbs with fellow city friends (periodic visits to big box stores are crucial for city survival! And the Santa Fe Salad at the Cheesecake Factory, about the only thing that I truly love about the suburbs), we hit a Joann’s during a 99-cent fat quarters sale, so I stocked up on yellows and oranges with this project in mind. I invited my bee-mates to add their own fabrics (in oranges/reds/yellows, of course) but one rule had to be followed: The center square in the 9-patch had to be in the provided Kona Snow. This way every block would end up with four small white squares. But I wasn’t picky about how the patches were rotated and sewn together (however, any ones that came in with the same fabric next to itself were picked apart and tacked onto another square).
When I distributed the blocks I worked to keep the red squares scattered around. I sewed lots more squares to fill out the blanket—it can seat 2–3 people comfortably. I finished the top about 8 months after my bee month, but there it sat while I figured out the backing. I wanted waterproof, or something like it, and wasn’t sure how best to accomplish it. Then while in Boulder for a dear friend’s wedding, in line at a hardware store for sunscreen, I turned and saw large bolts of oilcloth for some amazingly low price (I think less than $2 a yard?). A yellow with green plaid lines seemed to be the right choice, so I bought several yards and smashed it into my suitcase. But I only finally got around to putting it all together a few weeks ago.
I didn’t put any batting between the top and backing—I figured, whatever padding I’d put in wouldn’t be any match against a rock, and I certainly wasn’t seeking warmth. But I did quilt the two together, just to be sure there wouldn’t be any shifting. I went on the diagonal in each direction. Stitching on the oilcloth was so easy! It moved through the machine just fine, and I had it all quilted in no time. I used another orange fabric as the binding, and machine sewed it down. This was my first time using the machine, and while it wasn’t a perfect job, it definitely did the trick; I was pleased with how successful it was!
While sewing down the binding I added two ties so that I could roll the blanket up and tie it shut. Ingenious, I think! This weekend I got to use the blanket at the Big Apple BBQ. Five friends and I sampled some amazing meats on the lawn at Madison Square Park and relaxed on our blankets—it was perfect! This was my fourth visit to the BABBQ but my first with a truly wonderful blanket to sit on. So big thanks to Sara, Nova, Sarah, Chawne, Kate, Stacey, Danielle, Carrie, Andréa, JulieFrick, and Caro for your contributions to my summer of fun with friends! I love that I can have my friends with me in so many ways. Just do not spill anything on my quilt, or I’m never hanging out with you again. You’ve been warned!
Well whaddaya know, there’s a whole quilt-blogger thing going on right now. I’ve been a knitblogger for just shy of 7 years, but I’m only just now really starting to quilt. I’ve been adding quilt blog after quilt blog to my blogroll, and suddenly everyone I follow is participating in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, an amazing community event put on by Amy! I want in, too! I’ve found a bunch of great quilting blogs, and this will be a great way to find more. While this space will always be a healthy mix of knitting/crocheting/quilting/eating/photography, I hope there’s something that other quilters will enjoy, too. I feel badly that I’ll just be featuring the quilt from the previous post, but my current stance is that my most favorite quilt is always the one I just made, so how can I resist? I’ll show a few different photos of it, though.
(the top, pre-quilting—despite the fold creases, the best pic I have of the top)
In my last post I was awfully cursory in details about the quilt, so this gives me an opportunity to share a little more about it. The truth is, this quilt was inspired by a crocheted blanket! I used to work at a crochet magazine, and we had a folder full of “swipe”—images pulled from vintage pattern books, etc., to use as inspiration. This one, from some anonymous old pattern book, was never used in any of our crochet designs. The blanket in that photo (which I can no longer find) was made of just three colors, and it was honestly hideous, in red, blue, and white. Somehow, though, it did not strike a patriotic air. Just a mismatched, sad one. But it gave this optical-illusion of depth and the idea got into my head as perfect for a quilt.
I toyed with making the quilt solely out of 3 colors, like in the original, but I had that Poseidon pack of fat quarters, and it seemed a good way to make use of it. I thought I could eke out all the squares with just fat quarters and my large stash of Kona Snow, and I came so very close, but the secondary color in each of the outside two rounds of squares needed more fabric. I started this quilt in the summer of 2010, during my friend JulieFrick’s “60 Blocks of Summer” challenge—for which I was successful only because of these little squares! But then I stalled, and didn’t pick it back up again until one week before the quilt was given to my friend’s sixteen-month-old. Each block measures 6 x 6 finished. The final quilt is 7 squares wide by 9 squares high, so it comes in at around 42 x 54. That’s actually pretty big, in my opinion, for a kid’s quilt, and if I were to use this design again (and that’s highly likely), I’d make the darker center just two squares high.
Since finishing this quilt, I’ve sketched out other configurations. I know they’re not rocket science or anything, but it was helpful for me to see this visually, to be able to make it small and see what it will look like from afar. My boyfriend and I want one for our living room (likely in shades of green, hence the colors in my sketch—obviously, not nuanced at all here, just something to get the effect), and I’m not sure exactly how I want to make it larger, whether just more squares or to actually increase the size of the finished squares to 8 x 8 or something. I was highly systematic in the measurements of the first (the way the center square steps down and the outer ring steps up is by a quarter inch each time), and changing the final dimension might not allow me quite the same perfect finesse.
Stay tuned for more variations! See all my photos of the quilt, including more of the backing and the label, in my original post.
I cannot even muster up any modesty here. My love for this blanket exceeds well, most anything else I’ve ever made. Isn’t it fabulous? I had a vision, and it came together even better than I had imagined!
The fabrics are all from the Kona Poseidon pack of fat quarters, though I did have to buy more of two fabrics, all bordered by Kona Snow. The binding is another turquoise Kona—I didn’t pay attention to the name when I bought it. Basically, I have no idea what all the colors are, exactly, but they’re all Kona, and the bulk of the colors are from the Poseidon pack. My original idea was to have all the squares made out of the same 3 colors, allowing the changing size configuration to give it graphic punch, but I was able to make good use of just quarters by working out this progression; the effect gives it even more depth, I think. I love it so much that I want another, larger one for myself—and have thought about writing it up as a little pattern, once I tweak and perfect a few hiccups—but picking the fabrics is going to give me agita: how ever will I get the combo right a second time??
Because yes, I gave this one away, to my friend Liz’s daughter. I started the quilt for her before she was born but ran out of fabric/took forever to get more/got distracted by other things, so only finished it up last week, in anticipation of finally meeting the little stinker, who is now 16 months old, this past weekend.
It’s backed in a single panel of corduroy to give it some warmth and softness (though it added a slight challenge in the quilting—definitely needed the walking foot!). I give thanks to the awesome staff at Purl, who immediately had great suggestions when I said I didn’t want to piece the back. The label is embroidered on a small patch of Kona snow. I love it, too, especially because I’ve never had the patience to actually create a successful embroidered label before. I also have my personalized ribbon, which I added to the top corner. The white text is kiiind of not as legible as I’d have liked, but it suffices.
Wavy quilting lines also help to soften the rigid structure of the piecing; it was my first time doing wavy lines. I know they’re not especially difficult or crazy, but I’m taking baby steps with each quilt and my quilting, so this felt like an accomplishment to me! I’ve seen the technique used by many quilters, but I was definitely inspired by Bijou Lovely, and her video helped me feel confident when I tackled it myself. I used three different colors of thread for the quilting just for some variety, especially since the backing was solid. (Those creases are from folding and transporting it to Maryland.)
My experience with little kids is extremely limited, but I learned this weekend that there is nothing cuter than a baby saying “baby?” Eleanor’s reaction upon being told that the blanket was for her was so awesome. “Blanket for baby? Baby?” And then shrieks and grabs and even putting it in her mouth and carrying it around the house. For once, listening to a little toddler cry out “mine!” gave me pangs of pride. So enjoy your blanket Eleanor, made especially for you by Aunt Erin!
I love the beach at all times—it’s my favorite place in the world—but there’s a certain particular magic to the beach in the winter. The emptiness, the quiet, the expansiveness. Holly and I took a drive on a dreary day during this winter-that-does-not-feel-like-winter and captured some of what beachy winter looks like.