Sometimes it’s just fun to play with your fabric stash along with a color wheel. This mini made last summer—woefully overdue to be sent to decorate a baby’s room—is just four string quilt blocks that follow the colors of the rainbow. Kona Snow marks the center of each string, and a variety of my favorite fabrics are here. Though it’s subtle, each color progression goes from dark to light toward the center. Looking at this again makes me want to get out my stash and start planning color stories all over again!
This past year was my first time participating in Reddit’s Secret Santa gift exchange—and how fun! I was one of almost 200,000 people who signed up to exchange a gift with a complete stranger. Several of my coworkers participated too, and we had fun filling out our profiles and wondering what kinds of gifts we’d get. I was very sure that Bill Gates would give me a private island. (Spoiler: He didn’t get me in the exchange. Bummer.)
Anyway, I got my match’s profile and had no idea what to get! She is passionate about music (which I don’t know anything about), and I wasn’t sure what the perfect gift for her would be. She did mention wine tasting and liking wine so I’ll admit I went the safe route: I got her a Corksicle and an aerating pourer, so whether she wanted white or red she’d be covered. And even though she didn’t talk about being a crafty person herself, I decided to give her something handmade, too.
Enter a set of coasters. I found this wine-themed novelty fabric buried deep in my stash (in fact, I remember that I made an apron out of it probably 10 years ago, but for whom? No clue). I wasn’t going to fuss with these: Two 4.5-inch squares and batting sewn together on 3 sides, flipped right side out, open end folded in, top-stitched near the edge. I debated what to do for the quilting lines, and I was pleased to think up this simple “X” because to me it feels like the lines of a wine bottle holder. Is that reaching? Maybe, but I see it and I like that about it.
I also tucked a handmade Christmas tree ornament into the box—though she was doing a Secret Santa, I wasn’t 100% sure that she celebrated Christmas, but I have a ton of the ornaments so I figured why not. (I can’t link to more info on the ornament because it turns out I never blogged about them, doh. I made them in 2013, as you can see in the photo, but hers did not have the year embroidered on it.) In her thank-you note she said she actually collects ornaments! So that was perfect.
And as a nod to the only way that I can relate to her passion for music, I wrote my note to her on the back of a print of this photograph I took at Rudy’s Music Soho (it’s the guitar shop that’s next door to Purl Soho, so I’m around it often even if I have no business being in there!). It’s a desktop wallpaper available at dsktps.com if you’re interested!
As to what I got? Well, if I couldn’t get a private island, I like what I did get—my Secret Santa picked up on my love of traveling, and she sent me this National Geographic Journeys of a Lifetime book of the best places in the world! Flipping through it is endlessly inspiring; I want to go everywhere!
How is it that two years in a row I declared it the “year of garment sewing,” but I have only one measly finished garment from 2014 to show? Oh well—maybe 2015 is the year? But even if I didn’t make much clothing (in fact, I had an epic failure of a Moss Mini Skirt), I have plenty of finished handmade goodness to show off! Much of it of course is still not blogged—how is it I resolve every year to blog more and then utterly neglect this space by the end of the year? Anyway, I scrolled through my Lightroom and mentally assessed my whole apartment and discovered I’d made a load of things this year!
Let’s talk knitting. Not much, it’s true, given the continued pain I have in my hands. My first magazine cover, though, which was a particular thrill! I wholeheartedly enjoyed knitting Stonecutter, but the more I think about it the more likely I am to give it to my mother, who will wear it proudly when I am likely to ignore it in my sweater drawer. Those squishy monsters are hopefully making some cute babies happy, and though I really didn’t like my Follow Your Arrow upon completion, I wear it regularly! That pillow needs blogging…
Boy did I sew more quilts than I thought I did. Three full-sized quilts: two for wedding presents, one for us. Two baby quilts (one yet to be blogged, that I’d like to make into a pattern if I could get my act together to do so). Three minis, a set of coasters, and I threw that one garment in here because it’s made of fabric. I’ve been spending the end of the year slashing through my stash, trying to make a dent in the bins that are full to bursting! I am looking forward to making lots more in the coming year, as I think i’ve really got the hang of this quilting thing now. A year ago I was feeling confident but still like a novice; at this point, I think I know my stuff. My technique for basting still needs some work, and as a result I need lots more practice quilting items, but I do think my entry-level sewing machine is at least partly to blame here. It’s time to start saving up for something bigger and better.
But what I hadn’t anticipated upon starting this look-back is just how much embroidery I did in 2014. I love how satisfying it is to complete a project; plus it’s so comparatively fast (not like knitting or quilting!). Some of these are the elaborate quilt labels I made, others were just to be framed on their own, and others were part of a group project—they’ll be incorporated into a quilt or wall hanging. My embroidery supplies are in a completely terrible jumble in a Ziploc bag because it seemed like a lark of a craft, but it seems I do it a lot more than I thought, so I ought to get that organized. Tucked in the corner there are two of the onesies I made for the baby shower of my friend; these are complete no-sew projects that are great activities for a shower!
I don’t think I can express more strongly how surprised I was at my turnout this year when I gathered all the photos together today. Before I figured out how much I’d knit, I started to write my paragraph about it and I could think of only two things off the top of my head. Then I started actually looking, and I found that I finished 9 things!? One of them a highly complex cabled sweater? Yeah, I knit quite a bit. How did I not crochet anything, though?
Here’s to more making in 2015! It’ll be a #yearofmaking!
At long last, I have made a quilt intended to live on my own couch. I have one other quilt, my beloved KBeeC quilt, but that is large and sometimes we just want a little something on the couch.
I used the templates provided by Sing All You Want for the Arrow Tail quilt, but instead of matching each row I offset every other. I grabbed all shades of aqua, yellow, and gray; many of the fabrics in here are the last bits of some of my very favorites.
Once I finished the quilt top—a straightforward affair, though I am not in love with matching up angled pieces—I decided to keep all the scraps out and work with them to make up the backing. I cut squares and built some improv/wonky log cabins. It was a lovely, mindless sort of piecing and everything came together so nicely. In fact, it seemed easier and more satisfying than the front, where it was so much more structured.
Ultimately I took a ton of the small remaining triangle-shaped scraps and made those into HSTs that will appear in a different quilt, so I worked with 8 log cabinsto build the backing. I didn’t plan this out carefully at all (the 8 squares didn’t actually match up with the width or height of the front) and I love love love it.
I quilted it with wavy quilting lines, because that’s about all I can handle—my straight lines look wavy, too, so I might as well go for it. I bound it using the machine entirely; this was the first time I’d done that. The front looks really sharp and neat! I’m pretty pleased with how that came out. The seam line for the binding, though, is not flush with the fold from the first fold/seam of the binding, and that makes it more visible. (It’s about an eighth of an inch in from the edge of the binding.) But it’s really even the whole way around, so I don’t really care.
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!