Warm stitches

I started a new knitting project this week.

The pattern is called Drachenfels, by Melanie Berg, and it is a simple knit, increasing on one edge while decreasing on the other, creating a sideways triangle.  I just have to remember not to do the decrease every 6th row, and other than that it is pretty mindless knitting, so I can keep reading or talking or watching TV or all of those in various combinations while it grows.


Three yarns are all really different from each other in texture and content.  The dark cone yarn is a marked two ply wool in two different browns.  The dirty white coned yarn is a raw silk, very nubby and splitty.  The golden brown is Madeline Tosh merino light, a soft luminous yarn – Tosh merino light is one of my all time favorites to knit with.

I’m trying hard to knit from my stash, both as a money saver (though I just spend it all on fabric instead, so it is net neutral in the long run) and to reduce the sheer volume of stuff in my craft storage.  These three yarns wouldn’t normally go into the same project, but it seems to be working so far.

I was a knitter long before I started quilting, and though larger blocks of time are usually given to quilting, the portability of knitting can’t be replaced.  If I sit too long without having needles in my hands my fingers get itchy.

We also got our tree up this week, so I can knit in the glow of the colorful lights, with the Hanukkiah candles also adding in their flickers.

Those are my sons, post decorating the tree, and pre-redecorating it after the cat tried to climb it and pulled the whole thing over.  Sigh for my Swarovski snowflake ornaments.   We also went with two Hanukkiahs this year as it cuts down on the candle lighting arguments.


So many squares!

I hope everyone who celebrated had a good Thanksgiving.  It was rather crowded here in our little house with my sister’s family here for the first time in years, as well as my Cousin’s family and my mom.  We needed an extra table in addition to the extra table leaves.  And I see a need for floor pillows for the living room before next time.  Yay! More sewing projects!

We made lefse, which is traditional in our family for holidays – pretty much the only carryover from the Scandinavian ancestors.



I also learned that 1) brussel sprouts come on enormous, thick stalks, and 2) I don’t like them.

In addition to hosting Thanksgiving over this holiday weekend, there was crafting. I did a lot of cutting.  Square after square after square.

Some of it was for an upcoming mystery QAL that starts in January.  The cutting list requires more than 600 squares ranging from 2 1/2 to 4 1/2, with lots of 5/8 and 7/8 variations inbetween.  It is the new Scrapitude QAL, in case anyone else wants to join in.

Scrapitude quilt squares

Looks like a pretty small pile for 600+ squares! doesn’t it!?  I went through my black and dark blue scraps, added some gold and yellows, and very pale neutrals for the rest.  I’m still debating the background color – white or medium gray probably.

While I worked on the fabric squares, my cousin spent an equal number of hours playing with my sister’s cricut machine, cutting out all manner of shapes.  I snuck in a few snowflakes.  (The boys and I hope that putting them up in the window will attract real snow, though the strong El Niño makes that an unlikely event this winter.)  That machine is so much fun!Cricut snowflakes

I cut a bunch more 2 1/2″ squares for my scrap bin as well, and then yesterday I got ichy for the sewing machine after all that family togetherness so I started making wonky stars with them.  I’m throwing in as many different fabrics as I can, so it is going to be very colorful.  Hopefully, the white stars will give eyes a place to rest from the bright mish-mash.

Making them is addicting – I was up this morning before I even got dressed, making more.


The next generation of quilters

Scrappy Chains quilt

My niece, who lived in my basement with her family for several months this summer, has just moved out – along with the rest of her family and the dogs, but unfortunately leaving a cat behind – but before they left she told me that she wanted to make a quilt.  She hadn’t seen before, but she had been watching me and felt like giving it a try.
Scrappy Chains pattern

We found a fairly basic pattern in a quilting magazine I had – Scrappy Chains from the March/April 2015 volume of Quilting Quickly – and she spent the next two days cutting squares and rectangles from many pastels pulled from my stash and scrap bin.

Cutting for Scrappy Chains

Cutting for Scrappy Chains

She was really dedicated, which was impressive from a girl we have trouble shifting out of bed before afternoon.  When the cutting was done, the sorting and matching began.

Scrappy Chains squares

Sorting colors for Scrappy Chains

Next I gave her a quick lesson in sewing scant 1/4″ seams and pressing for nested seams, and she was off and running with the sewing machine.

Scrappy Chains - first block

Her first ever quilt block!

I went away the next weekend and by the time we got back, she had finished all her blocks. All 168!  And very shortly after that, the top was done.

Scrappy Chains top

It isn’t perfect – but then very few are.  There are some places where not everything matches completely, and some seams that had to be reinforced later.  But it is lively, and colorful, and she did it all herself.  Very impressive for someone who had never sewn before!

The next step was introducing her to the quirky locations that I have for pinning.  I’m sure many people manage this step without needing a push broom to remove maple leaves, but that is an integral part of the process around here.  Pinning is for sunny days at my house.Pinning Scrappy ChainsPinning Scrappy Chains

She wasn’t quite ready to quilt yet, so I took care of that step.  I went with curvy crisis-crossing lines, which is becoming one of my favorite overall quilting methods.

Quilting Scrappy Chains

The binding I pulled from a jelly roll my kids bought me – it made it so quick to have the strips already cut.  And the orange, yellow, pink, and blue fit in with all the many pastel colors she’d chosen.

imageScrappy Chains binding

I trim and quilt and added the binding today. I so love the Wonder clips.  I wasn’t sure I really needed them, but they are much smoother and less painful than the pins I used to use.  I sewed the binding on both sides rather than hand sewing it. I’m doing that more and more often as it seems sturdier on quilts that will be washed a lot.

Scrappy Chains binding

And now it is done!   Fresh out of the drier and ready to be given to her tomorrow.

Scrappy Chains quilt finished

(All my usual quilts holders were either asleep or AWOL, so please excuse the bad photo shoot.)

For Mom’s birthday

I made this duvet cover for my mom a while back:

Jardin de Provence duvet cover

She picked out the fabric, and it looked great in her room (I don’t have a picture of it there, unfortunately) so I ordered a fat quarter of the whole fabric line – Jardin de Provence – to surprise her with a wall hanging to go above the bed.

I chose to follow the Star Light, Star Bright pattern directions found here on the Moda Bake Shop website.

I didn’t have quite the right ruler, but some painters tape took care of that.  My triangles were 7 1/4″ high, making the diamonds 14 1/2″.

45 degree triangle

Cutting 45 degree diamonds

The only pattern issue I had was with the measurements of the diamonds.  The directions told which 45 degree triangle ruler she used, but didn’t make it clear the exact size of the diamonds.  Since I don’t have that ruler, I had to guess a bit based on the width of the fold that she suggested.  I obviously didn’t guess quite right because the squares that I cut for the corners ended up an inch too small, so I had to search out more white and cut new, bigger squares.  Avoidable if the diamond measurements had been given!

Jardin de Provence diamonds

I sewed the pieces together in a slightly different order than the pattern called for.  After doing the 8 diamond wedges, I added in the Y seam triangles before sewing more sections together.  It probably didn’t make a difference, but I figured I’d be manuevering less fabric volume that way.

Jardin de Provence diamonds

Jardin de Privence Y seams

If you look closely at these three in progress pictures, you’ll see that some of the diamonds moved around.  I didn’t always get the right edges sewn together, or notice in time to fix it.  So much for my careful arranging when I started!

Jardin de Provence corner Y seams

I didn’t do a perfect job on all the Y seams. But they are pretty good, and I’m quite proud of my center points.

Jardin de Provence center points

Four hours from start to finish – my handy assistants helped me get the final picture, despite the wind and can’t-set-down-the-popsicle obstacles.

Mom's Jardin de Provence star

Mom's Jardin de Provence star

Tomorrow I hope to start quilting, but I probably won’t get it quite finished by her birthday on Thursday.  But it will be far enough for her to see what it will be, and Mom isn’t picking about things like exact dates.

Perhaps not my smartest idea

It hit 102 degrees here yesterday.  Around here, that is about as extreme as it gets (at least until this afternoon which is supposed to be worse.  Seriously Portland, what are you thinking with this heat?! You’re in the PNW!  Stop the madness!) So, I thought it would be a good idea to do some pin basting outside.  Not my smartest heat wave activity choice.

Pin basting A's quilt

I don’t have a big enough floor area to spread out a quilt of this size indoors, so the driveway was really the only option until I get some folding tables,  I swept away stray leaves and pebbles, got the gardening knee pad, and set in.  A large sun hat helped, and so did starting in the sunny part so I could move back to the shade.  But I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m crazy.  Hard to disagree.

A's quilt - pin basted

I put all the pins in colored squares as I’m going to keep the quilting to the gray areas.  Still mulling the exact plan.

I’m so intimidated to start quilting this behemoth.  Will the Juki’s harp and my dining room table be up to it?  We’ll find out today when I get started.

While I pinned, my sister and my youngest worked on Dr. Seuss frames she is making for her special ed classroom.  She is going to paint them in wild, Seussian colors and hang student art in them.

Dr. Seuss frame

Meanwhile, the cat coped by strategically utilizing her own sun hat.

Cat and sun hat

Fabulous, but not so fast

My aunt recently commissioned me to make a quilt for her daughter whose long term quilt bedspread was disintegrating.  A lot of emails ensued.  I sent many pictures culled from Google Images and Pinterest to my cousin who narrowed down the designs to two:

A's quilt choices

imageI then settled on the Amy Smart quilt – called Mooccan Tiles – for two important reasons.  The first is the pattern for the blocks takes far fewer steps.  The second one is I already own the pattern book!

Next step was sending my cousin off to the fabric store near her to get print ideas.  I sent yardage amounts in case she found fabric she couldn’t live without.  I think she found it a bit overwhelming, but it was useful because she decided she really loved batiks, and she found a blue that went with her current bed skirt so we could build the quilt around that anchor color. She ended up buying that blue and a few fat quarters of blue and purple batiks and mailing them to me.

With those in hand, I went to the 35% off sale at Fabric Depot and bought a LOT of fabric.  Because what makes this quilt not-so-fast is the fact that I’m scaling it up to 96″ x 96″.  Not a small quilt.  In fact, it will be the largest I’ve ever made, and I’m rather daunted at the idea of getting it all through my sewing machine.  I’m still exploring the possibilities for quilting it in sections, but haven’t decided yet.A's quilt fabric

Those are the fabrics I ended up with after a long time pulling and replacing bolts in the batik aisle.  The deep blue near the top is her choice, as are a few of the fat quarters.  I added more blues and purples and some green and magenta touches.  The only one that isn’t going in is the one in the bottom right, as it just didn’t blend in with the others when I put all the strips together.  Should have maybe figured that out before I cut it into strips!

I started the cutting and sewing yesterday and I’ve made some real progress by this evening.

imageimageA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progress

That last photo is what 144 blocks looks like.  I spent time trying to mix up the different prints as much as possible. No block has the same fabric twice, and then I made the piles to make sure that really similar blocks would not land too closely together.  No guarantees, but the spread of prints should be pretty random.

I’m completely enamoured of the colors, the batik fabric, and the pale silver Kona cotton for the sashing.  Next step is to cut all the plain silver blocks that will go between the colorful blocks.