2013 Roud up

Ever since I joined Instagram, I've noticed that I prefer to post the messy in-progress photos there and then post the finishes and the stories over here. Unfortunately, I haven't really had much for finishes lately, so this spot has been very quiet. The good news is that I just recently got my sewing mojo back, so here's hoping that I have more to post here soon.

In the meantime, I do like my year end mosaics. 2013 was declared the year of completion.  And I did complete 18 quilts!!

The picture above shows 16 and I also finished two other baby quilts for charity.  

In addition to the quilts, I made some more complicated containers, zipper bags, ornaments, a purse and some apparel!  This has been a big year for trying new techniques.  I still have a lot to learn, but this has been fun.

And, lastly, I had some bee blocks to make. Only 9 bee blocks made this year feel much easier than others.  But, can you believe that I still have one bee block to do...from April?  That should be first on my sewing list for 2014.  It definitely has to get done in January. 

So out of the 19 projects that I wanted to finish in 2013, I did finish ten and I made good progress on another four. But 2014 is NOT going to be another year of completing projects. I need some inspiration!  I have a lot of new ideas that I didn't allow myself to start in 2013 and I'm not waiting any longer.  I hope you find your inspiration to sew in the new year, too!

Happy Halloween!

Skelly doll done ✔. It only took 2 years 
to attach the arms and legs.

I finished sewing his treat sack last night and today I watched him do the costume parade at school with his favorite classmate, Niki. I can't wait for tonight. I really think that we may make it to two or three houses successfully. If we can do all 5 hou

I hope you are all having a fun time trick or treating!

Good Sports

I asked Ben if he wanted a new winter hat or scarf or mittens this year as I was perusing pretty patterns on Ravelry.  He said he wanted an ear warmer and a neck warmer for when he rides his bike in the winter.  I thought I'd get a chance to pick a cool pattern or try some two color knitting, but no, he just wanted plain and 2x2 rib.  He dug through my stash and picked some Cascade 220 for the headband and then he wanted the Noro Cash Iroha for the neckband.

So, I took a break in knitting some fun stuff for me in order to keep him cozy.

But he is an excellent sport when modeling new handknits.  Here is his rock n' roll look,

the rock 'n roll

happy jogging man,

the happy jogger

and the Ron Swanson.

the Ron Swanson (minus mustache)

Still finishing things

Back in January, I declared 2013 as the Year of Completion.  Well, I've been chugging along on my quilting UFO's (unfinished objects) and have made great progress.  I've been pretty good about not starting new quilt projects, too.  There have been a few garments and a couple of baby quilts for gifts, but I have really held back in starting new epic projects.  (Beware, I have two big ones in mind that I will probably start in January 2014--maybe even when the clock strikes 12:01am....)

So, all of this is to say that I've been a very good girl.  And, earlier this month, when I was so sick of staring at the same sewing projects that I had to wander off, I picked up some old knitting WIP's (works in progress).

I finished mittens that I started 21 months ago.

Nearly done with mittens that I started 21 months ago. #handknits


I finished a charity baby knit that I started 11 months ago.

Tiny sweater. #babyknits #finallyfinishing

And then I tried to finish a sweater that I started over five years ago.

Well, my knitting gauge is much smaller than it was five years ago, and I'm (ahem) not smaller than I was five years ago.  So, the size I had cast on for was incorrect at this time and then I knit one front of a cardigan that was 2 inches narrower than the other side.
My last old knitting WIP. I started this in 2008!! It is a Hey, Teach! cardigan in Berroco Inca Gold.

So, I had to rip out all of this delicious texture. (sad face)

I have another plan for the yarn and I'm already 11 rows into it.  I'm cheating on my old quilting projects, but the fall winds demand that I knit, so I'm listening.

Another installment of Barbie knits

This space has been quiet lately and I think it's because my knitting mojo is back in full swing.  You've gotta love fall as a knitter.  I've been churning projects off of the needles, taking some (occasionally lousy) pictures and then knitting something else.  Sometimes I even spend a full day or two agonizing about what I will knit next.  But today I'm taking a break in the agonizing to post some pictures of recent Barbie knits.  I think this may be my last Barbie knit post for some time...I think.

First up is a collared shirt.  Pattern #0133 on stickatillbarbie.se
I stitched the collar down with a little thread because it really wanted to roll back up.

more Barbie knits

These pictures are pretty grainy since it was such a dreary day.  I managed to comb out the knots in (Hispanic Presidential Candidate) Barbie's hair the day before this photo session.  Then Henry promptly used her to drum on the walls so she is a disaster again.  I'm not redoing that hair until I absolutely have to.

For the ruffle skirt I used pattern #1005 pink dress (on stickatillbarbie.se) to learn how to do the ruffle and then made it into a skirt when I got to the waistband. 

more Barbie knits

I'm particularly proud of this jumpsuit knit.  I made up the pattern for this myself.  I knit it in the round from the bottom up and had up to seven needles going at once to join the two legs together, but the pattern is completely seamless!  (I get excited about the small things.)

more Barbie knits

This cape may be the most and least necessary accessory at the same time.  Does Barbie really need a cape knit in Madelintosh yarn leftovers?  No.  But, will my creative Barbie-playing friend be able to do some cool pretend play with a hooded cape on her Barbie?  Yes.  Decidedly yes.

more Barbie knits

Cape is pattern #1022 on stickatillbarbie.se

Now I have to sort through the rest of my knitting photos to decide what I should share here next...
And then I have to finish the cutest little Halloween treat bag in the universe! Stay tuned.

Quilting progress

I basted my Farmer's Wife quilt a month ago.  A friend let me borrow her quilting frame to thread baste it on. 

My Farmer's Wife quilt is all stretched out and ready for thread basting!

Since then, I've been slowly chipping away at the hand quilting on the sashing.  I'm using a single strand of Presencia thread and a size 9 straw needle.  I'm pleased with how the tiny stitches are working out. 

Hours and hours of teeny gray stitches on gray fabric.... My #farmerswifequilt posts probably look pretty boring, but I love how it is turning out.

I've been counting the blocks as I go to keep myself motivated.  So far I'm at the sashing of block 34 out of 121.  The tiny stitches of gray on gray gets a little boring, but I love how it is turning out. 

Once the sashing is all quilted, I'll move on to the colored size 8 perle cotton big stitch quilting. I think that part will move pretty quickly and it will be a lot of fun to add a little more color to these blocks.

Baby Quilt 4

Well, I planned on posting this on Saturday or Sunday, but I got sucked into a good book and was too lazy to blog.  Does that ever happen to anyone else?

Anyway, this is the last baby quilt I have to show and it was the only one I worked on in the last week.  I don't try to save up quilts to show here, but I seem to go through spurts of quilting and binding as well as reading :)

Baby Pushrock Quilt

Every once in awhile (when I have a cutting spurt) I put a sharp new blade in my rotary cutter and I tackle a huge pile of scraps until they fit nicely in this bin.  I have 2.5", 3" and 4" squares, 1.5", 2" and 2.5" strips in here.

My bin of precut scraps makes me happy!

One day I was cutting scraps while my husband just sat at the table watching me.  So, I gave him a stack of squares and asked him to pick through them and choose some for a baby quilt.  Then I took his choices and the remaining pile and sorted a little bit more, added some white squares and this is the quilt that came out of it.

Baby Pushrock Quilt

I'll be sending it to a dear friend of mine who is pregnant with her first.  They don't know the sex of the baby yet, but blue is my second favorite color next to green, so I think this will work for a boy or a girl.

Baby Pushrock Quilt

On Thursday I'll be thread basting my Farmer's Wife quilt. I am so excited! My friend, Jessie, is letting me use her quilting frame. So if you follow me on instagram or flickr, you'll see some basting pictures pop up! 

Baby Quilt 3

As I mentioned yesterday, I have another strip quilt to show today.  I've heard that charities get lots and lots of girl-themed baby quilts and not many boy-themed ones.   I have a TON of blue and green and gray fabric, but many of them are still floral or cutesy in a way that doesn't work. 

But I had this Tula Pink fabric that was just itching to be made into a quiet boy quilt.

Baby Quilt 3

Both today's quilt and yesterday's will be sent to Bundles of Joy.  BOJ is a group of knitters and crocheters on ravelry that send out new baby items to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  Pine Ridge spans the two poorest counties in the United States.  The blankets and quilts sent by Bundles of Joy are first used by the babies born on the OB ward, then they are used by the elders as lap blankets or wherever they are needed to provide a little extra warmth and brightness.  I know that these quilts will be used and reused and that makes me very happy. 

I have one last baby quilt to show in this series of potst but I have to finish up the binding.  So maybe I'll post tomorrow, or maybe the next day.  After that, I think there will be a long baby quilt lull over here.

Baby Quilt 2

Two months ago I had a day when I just wanted to whip out a quilt top all at once.  The very easiest way to do that is to make a strip quilt in baby size.  I grabbed some fabric that I needed to use up and then grabbed a few more wacky options from my stash and this came together in no time.  The straightline quilting was quick and easy and I've been working on my machine binding, too.

Baby Quilt 2

This quilt is for 100 Quilts for Kids.  Katie of SwimBikeQuilt is a friend and member of the DC Modern Quilt Guild and she started the 100 Quilts for Kids drive.  Katie is hosting a local charity sewing day on September 28th (details on her blog) to sew quilts and the DC MQG will be there stitching away.

I have another strip quilt to show tomorrow and I'll tell you then about the charity that I'll send both of them to. 

Baby Quilt 1

I have a huge backlog of finished baby quilts.  I really miss my backyard in Wisconsin for many reasons, but especially when it comes to quilt photography.  I love a good clothesline for quilt pictures.  The deck would work in a pinch and the grass was lovely for laying out a quilt.  But here I have a low pine branch that works okay.

Baby Quilt 1

There is too much shade and not enough grass, so I have to wait for just the right amount of light to do any photo attempts. 

Baby Quilt 1

This particular baby quilt is going to a friend.  Once I cut up the red and cornflower blue squares for the giveaway last month, I grabbed a little bit of white fabric and whipped my pile of squares into a quilt in an evening. 

Baby Quilt 1

The pink dots on the back are one of my favorite DS Quilts prints.  The red and white striped fabric was going to be the binding on my Christmas quilt, but I really like how it livens up this simple patchwork piece.

Posting about this finished baby quilt today. #putagridonit

And then I put a grid or two on it for the quilting.  Simple, but just right for patchwork.

I'll be back tomorrow (and a few more days) with another baby quilt(s)...

I am the slowest quilt along sewist EVER.

In March of 2011, Lynne of Lily's Quilts started the Dresden Quilt Along.  At that point, I had never sewn any curves and I liked the big bold design.  I decided that I wanted to break up the design of the dresden a little and make a up few of the petals with scraps.

Scrappy Dresden

And then I put the project down for over two years.  I knew that I didn't want the center or the background to be just one piece of fabric, but I decided that I didn't have enough gray fabric choices to match the design in my head. 

Well, I've had plenty of grays for a long time now and my collection of low volume and text fabrics has improved drastically also.  I just needed to make the time to do it.  Over the retreat weekend I made the background but there was a huge bubble in the dresden and the background.  On good advice from Jessie Aller, I made a dart along the join of two petals and the join of two quarters of the background.  I did not record that in pictures because it wasn't my proudest quilting moment, however I am pleased with the result now. 

Scrappy Dresden

I quilted this in concentric circles with my machine for the plate and the background and by hand for the center.  The finished quilt is 31" square and will hang in my sewing space.

Scrappy Dresden

As much as I hate having so many unfinished projects hanging over me, I think this one was well worth the wait.

Thoughts on Not Matching

I grew up in a matchy matchy household.  My mom was very conscious that we had a rust-colored recliner and that determined all of the rest of the living room decor.  The couch was rust and cream plaid and the rug had rust and green and navy in it.  Over time she tried to bring out the navy and fade the rust out.  Now she has a navy, tan and brown living room.

I'm not good at matching sewing projects to my furniture or anyone else's for that matter.  But I still started out with fabrics that generally matched.

modern vintage quilt--further

dream on postage stamp wip
(Yes, this one is still in progress....)

But then I changed after I received my first string blocks from the green bee and added more blocks of my own.  I stumbled on a new (to me) lesson in quilt design.

If I made each block out of just the Nicey Jane fabric line, then it was easy to glance at it and then move on. Once I added a few blues and greens from other lines that were just a shade or two off of a match with Nicey Jane, then it made the blocks more interesting.

I also found that the more I tried to balance out the colors within each block, the more boring the quilt top was as a whole. Once I started grouping a bunch of lights or darks together and making each block uneven and a little "odd" to the eye, that was when the quilt top as a whole looked more interesting to me. 

mine 3

The same thing happened when I started breaking up the diagonal lines with some bits that "didn't fit." (see the top right corner block below)

more sparkling pond blocks

That was when the quilt seemed to come alive and my eye felt like it needed to flit about to examine the imbalance.  If my eye could find a definite pattern, then my brain would categorize it easily and my mind wanted to move on.

I decided to take this further with contrasting colors and contrasting fabric design styles within each Farmer's Wife Sampler block. 

farmer's wife sampler, block 11

I wanted each fabric within the block to show up and then I chose a setting so each block itself could shine on its own.

farmer's wife sampler, block 8

I would purposely looked for awkward combinations because sewing those fabrics together in one block could make the block more interesting.

farmer's wife sampler, block 75

Then, with some luck, when you sew a whole slew of blocks together into a top, those may be the blocks that really shine.

card trick

And then I went one step further last year.  Before, I never would have put white, cream and ivory background fabrics in the same quilt. Nor would I have used charcoal, dove grey, tan, ecru and slate together.  

boy's nonsense

Those tones don't match per se, but they sure do make for some interesting neighbors in a quilt top.  By pushing the boundaries of pretty and ugly at the same time, I think these blocks really make your mind think about what shades exist.  If it was just one shade of navy, one brown and one white, it could be more easily dismissed.  

I am no expert on color theory by any means.  These little tidbits are things that I've just stumbled upon.  Do you have any thoughts about matching or not matching?  How do you work to make your quilt tops more interesting to the eye?

My other work from retreat

These photos aren't great since I'm in process on both of these today.  But I did promise to show you what else I worked on over my retreat weekend. 

2nd UFO from retreat. It still needs work. The big curves are kind of killer.

3rd UFO from retreat

I hope to have some finished tops to show very very soon.

Sparkling Pond

Over the weekend, I had a wonderful opportunity to sew with some friends from the DC Modern Quilt Guild.  We had a retreat at Mary's Quilt Shop in Bedford, Pennsylvania.  Bedford is the cutest town and Mary is a wonderful hostess.  Her retreat space is gorgeous!

I love an unscripted retreat.  I brought along three unfinished projects and all were made better with great company, amazing food and ample uninterrupted sewing time.

DCMQG Retreat friends
Mari, Jessie, Linda, myself and Anjeanette of the DC Modern Quilt Guild

I'm showing just one project today because I finished my Sparkling Pond quilt!!  I cut the fabrics for this in December 2010 and the last of the binding was stitched on August 2013.  That is a long, long time---but so worth it.

As usual, it is hard to capture the colors of a quilt in photographs. 

Sparkling Pond

This photo was taken on the side of the Espy House in Bedford.  The building is notable for having been the headquarters of George Washington and his forces in 1794.  I like the texture of the stone wall and the texture of the quilting in one photo.

Sparkling Pond

The brick wall is just on the other side of the alley and it makes a pretty great backdrop, too. 


I made a selvages string block for the bottom corner of the quilt.  I want to make a label to include all of the sewists that contributed a block to this quilt from the It's Sew Easy Bee-ing Green Bee.  I'm debating between printing fabric with a computer, stamping or making a screen print.  I definitely don't want to embroider that many names.

Selvages block

Tomorrow I'll post some progress photos of the other two projects I worked on during the retreat. 

Farmers Wife quilt top

The top is finally done and I could not be more happy.

Farmer's Wife quilt top

(All of the pictures of the completed top are by Jessie Aller)

I love love love my Farmer's Wife quilt.  It is such a big project to take on.  The book has 111 blocks.  I chose not to do a couple of the blocks from the book, but then I added other sampler blocks until I had 121 blocks total.

Farmer's Wife quilt top

I opened up my entire stash to be used in this quilt.  I started it with the idea that I'd use my very favorite fabrics.  That way, even if the colors are a jumbled mess, I'd still love it.  The finished quilt top has 354 different fabrics in it. 

Farmer's Wife quilt top

I decided to omit browns and dark cream fabrics and any fabrics that had heavy brown tones.  Sometimes choosing what you leave out helps the other colors come together more.  My stash is heavy in greens and aquas and lighter in yellows, oranges and purples, so you'll see that reflected in the quilt, too. 

Farmer's Wife quilt top

When I was deciding what fabrics to use in which blocks, I would spread my stash over the floor and surfaces in an entire room, pick one fabric that I loved and then pick another fabric or two to go with it and then I'd look through the book to find the right block to go with those fabrics. I'd do it again and again until I had the combinations I liked for 5 to 40 blocks.  After that, it made the most sense to me to do all of the cutting in a night or two.

prepping blocks for the fwqal

And then I'd wait until I had the time and patience to sew the blocks and I'd do that for a few nights in a row.  I paper pieced only 3 blocks out of 121.  Otherwise I did the quilt math or used the templates from the book.  Because so many blocks were heavy in pieces cut on the bias, I starched my fabric pieces and blocks like crazy!  Some of those blocks could nearly stand on their own.

Farmer's Wife quilt top

I've been thinking a lot about how to quilt this.  The finished top is 106" square.  I know I can't handle that on my machine and I've been pondering different ways to have a long armer help me, but I'm not sure that I can.  This one is so precious that can't really hand it over to anyone else.  So I guess I'm going to hand quilt it.  It may take me a few years, but I think it will be worth it.

Farmer's Wife quilt top