It feels like I didn't get as much knitting done in 2015 as I usually do. I was busy with stuff at church, and at the request of my husband I decided to not knit in the evenings. At first it really bothered me to just sit and not work on anything, but I kept reminding myself that rest is important too. So here is what I completed:
September - Whoops, looks like life got in the way and I didn't finish anything!
November - I spend this month working on secret projects that you will see next summer. Shhh!!!
I will readily admit that I am not a very good quilter. Before beginning the quilt I am about to describe, I had only successfully completed one quilt. I have two others in various stages of completion, which will probably never be finished. Just like my sewing, spinning and crocheting, I don't quilt often enough to be very good at it. There just aren't enough hours in the day!
But on to the story. I have a friend who was about 6 months pregnant when I met her and just recently gave birth to her second child. I don't know why I didn't get the idea sooner, but the week she was due it dawned on me that it would probably be nice to make something for the baby. Even though it seems popular these days to have a baby shower for every baby, she was more traditional and didn't have one for her second baby. When she was last at my house she commented how much she liked the quilt I had laying on my sofa, so I decided a quilt would be a nice present for a baby.
I have a small obsession with buying fat quarters just because they are colorful and pretty to look at. Now it was time I actually made something with them!! I get a bit tired of seeing pastel baby stuff and decided to go with bright colors. I think I even read somewhere that bright colors are thought to give babies a kind of euphoric high, so even a better reason to make something colorful if it will keep a baby entertained.
I dove into my giant stack of fat quarters and picked out a rainbow of 8 colors. I had a huge piece of black cotton that I thought would work nicely for the backing, but in my head I could picture my mother saying to me (in a pearl-clutching sort of way) "Black for A BABY??" Um... Yes? I didn't think it would look right with another color, and anything white for a baby is just asking for disaster, so here's hoping my friends wouldn't think it weird for a black backed quilt.
Since my quilting skills are lacking, I wanted something easy to sew. I decided on just plain squares with the colors laid out into a diagonal gradient. I used a craft size batting (36"x45") and cut out 5" squares. Here they are all laid out on the carpet.
See that quilted pillow in the corner of the pillow? That's what I WISH my quilting looked like. But, alas, my mother is a far better quilter than I. Looking back, I should have picked less busy prints for the light blue and aqua, but oh well.
While I was sewing, I tried to channel Eleanor Burns of Quilt in a Day. I love watching her show and how easy she makes it look. I didn't fling any scraps over my shoulder like she does though.
After careful pinning and only one sewing mishap, I managed to sew the whole top in about 3 hours. I cut out the backing and made the quilt sandwich on my newly swept kitchen floor. Here it is all basted with pins and taped to the floor.
I'm sorry the photo is poorly lit and rather blurry. I was in a hurry to get this quilt finished in one day, and just snapped a few photos with my phone.
Although I do have a walking foot and darning foot, my machine quilting is still rather lousy so I decided to just tie this quilt. I used purple embroidery floss that perfectly matched the purple fabric.
For the binding, I just folded the backing onto the front and pressed it under. The finished 'binding' was about 1/2". It took several tries and a youtube video for me to remember how to attach the walking foot onto my machine, but in the end it did a nice job sewing down the binding.
And here it is! I think the black looks nice as a border. I went down to the hospital and delivered the quilt to my friends and they loved it. Nothing quite like a soft quilt to snuggle in, no matter how old you are!
I'm working on embroidering the second block of my crazy quilt and have learned a few important lessons.
1. Random piecing can make you accidentally sew yourself into a corner. The idea of crazy quilting is to sew down an initial piece, then add a piece to a common edge, then add another piece that fits across a common edge on the first two pieces, etc, etc. But as the block progresses, the pieces you add on need to get bigger and bigger. What if I don't have a scrap that big? Well, I tried to do some crazy maneuvering that involved folding back edges on the right side and trying to add in some stealthy stitching as if I was sewing a needle turned applique Didn't work out so well. So how do you fix it? Well, to make bigger pieces I learned to sew a few smaller scraps together before adding them onto the block. But it sort of ruined the lines on the block. Which brings me to point #2.
2. 12" square blocks are just too big. I'm thinking 10" would be better. Then hopefully I won't need to have such large pieces as I get to the outer edges.
3. Don't be so random, work off a paper pattern until I get the hang of piecing. I'm trying to be all cool and just make it up as I go, but I end up scratching my head and grumbling trying to get it all to work. Ok, I'll draw a paper pattern. Pffft.
4. Embroidery floss is probably not the best embellishing thread for me. I have tons of it, therefore thought it would be a good idea to use some of it up. But using all 6 strands was too thick, so I separated off two strands and started embroidering with that. The stitching was nice and delicate, but I had a problem with the strands splitting and just not laying nicely on the fabric. My embroidery inexperience didn't help either. After a trip to Joann's, I have decided to switch to pearl cotton. Embroidery floss is made up of 6 strands loosely twisted together, meant to be split apart for various types of embroidery. Pearl cotton is two strands tightly twisted together and not meant to come apart. The individual balls of size 10 pearl cotton were pretty boring colors (black, ecru, navy) but I happened to find a package of thicker pearl cotton in some nice and bright colors.
So what else? Well I wanted more information on piecing and more ideas for embroidery embellishments. While at Joanns I saw this booklet, and thought it would be a good place to start. There was a big book on crazy quilting, but it had some super facing embellishments using silk ribbon (which I couldn't find) and beads and appliques, which are pretty but would make this project not as relaxing as I want it to be.
But wait, isn't this a knitting blog? When are you ever going to write about knitting? Normally I would write about knitting, and a few other things too. But it seems that lately all the knitting I have going on is the secret kind that I have to wait to show everyone. I'm finishing up the secret knitting and will get back to self publishing. I have a personal project that I've been working on during the Monday night knit group, so I'll share it in the next post. Promise. Until then, Happy Knitting!
Over the weekend I decided that I need to have a more defined working schedule for designing and some non-knitting projects to work on at night during my 'free time'. It needs to be something I can just pick up and work on for a bit before going to bed. At first I considered all the sewing projects I have waiting for me (pants, a long skirt, dresses, etc), but setting up the sewing table and ironing board takes up a lot of space and time and I would really want to have a big chunk of sewing time for going to all that trouble. So sewing clothes was nixed. I have two quilts in various stages of completeness but again the sewing table problem. I have been collecting a bag of fabric scraps from my sewing projects and decided that a crazy quilt would be fun. I can make one block at a time and work on it while sitting on the sofa.
I found basic instructions in "How to Sew A Button: And Other Nifty Things your Grandmother Knew." This is an awesome book and I would recommend it to any crafty person that likes to do things the old-fashioned way.
But back to quilting. I cut a piece of muslin into a 12" square and dug into my scrap bag. It is all bits of quilting fabric leftover from quilts and dresses. I sewed them on by hand which didn't take nearly as much time as I thought it would. After a few hours I had the whole thing all sewn up. I don't think I quite did it right; most of the edges I sewed down with a running stitch, but some edges came together at odd angles that I had to fold back and sew with a hem stitch. Hopefully the next block will turn out better. This afternoon was spent embroidering along all the seams. It has been many years since I've attempted to embroider, so my skills are very much lacking. I think it would have been best to use perle cotton, but I didn't have any. Instead I used two plys of embroidery floss. I have an old Victorian quilting book that demonstrated lots of fancy embroidery stitches. Most were too intimidating for me to try, so mostly I stuck with blanket stitch, chain stitch, herringbone and chicken feet. I had to throw in a few lazy daisies too. Not too bad for an amateur, eh?
Cassie loves to knit, read and cook. She sometimes does all three at the same time.