Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To all the Quilts I've Loved Before: The Plan

A Sampler Quilt

When I started planning this quilt, a certain quilt kept popping into my head: this oh so lovely Single Girl quilt from Blue Elephant Stitches.

What I love most about this quilt is the use of cream/white not-solids for the background of the rings. It reads as a neutral but it's so much more interesting. I know I will never come close to the perfection of that quilt but I will try my best with what I have. I'm just crazy about quilts with non-solid backgrounds! It will be a fun adventure!

I'd like to make a block a month but I don't want to feel pressured to commit. I want to be kind of chill about this quilt, just have fun and see where it goes. I don't want to come on too strong. That is, afterall, why so many of my past quilt relationships ended.

Here's the plan, in brief:

Background fabrics: various shades of white/crème/tan, solids and prints.

neutrals

Main fabrics: all the fabrics I like from my stash, any colors I feel like (but not purple because, well, I don't like purple.)

The blocks:
Blocks will all be 16.5" unfinished. The designs within the block will all be different sizes...probably around 12-15"?

The layout:
5 x 5 squares = 25 squares
80"x80" finished quilt

Designs:
Two or more of each design will be used, probably with different sized pieces to add more variety. I might come up with more to add to this list but for now, these are the blocks I'll be focusing on. I've gathered a lot of inspiration projects if you too feel like being inspired!

Clamshell (my current obsession)
Molly Flanders
Melissa
Stitched in Color
Three Kitchen Fairies

Dresden Plate
Raggedy Owl

Grandmother's Flower Garden (large)
Karen C.
The Eternal Thread

Grandmother's Flower Garden (small)
S.O.T.A.K Handmade

Hexagons
Comfortstitching

Stars
Stitched in Color

Coffins (Lozenges?)
The Workroom

Triangles
Stitched in Color
Little Edith Bee

Cathedral Window
Mary Dugan
Quilting Barbie

Lonestar (8 points)
Comfortstitching
Badskirt Amy

Lonestar (6 points)
Sew Me Something Good

I'm planning to start my first block this weekend! And just in case you find yourself swept up in a whirlwind romance with any of these blocks, I'll be sure to post any templates I make as well as descriptions of any techniques I'm using. This is going to be so much fun! Wait...dang it!...play it cool, Crystal, play it cool!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Compromises

I know I've said it many times before but Ian and I are pretty much opposites in the things we like/dislike. Food, tv, activities, hobbies, colors, music...the list goes on and on. If I like something, I can pretty much guarantee he will dislike it.

I bring this up because when Ian was in California over the winter holidays a couple of years ago, I decided to make a quilt for our bed. Usually I disregard Ian's feelings about such things (for example, this is our summer bed quilt which he hates) but for some reason I was feeling oddly generous. Maybe I missed him a little? Who can even know such things...

Anyway, after a bit of flickr searching and plotting and planning, I finally came up with a quilt that would make us both happy:

compromise2

When I'm in a good mood, I call this quilt "Opposites Attract". Because we're opposite and yet we get along so well and that's a sweet way to think of it, right?

compromise

But if I'm being realistic, the better name is "Compromises"...because when Ian and I try to find middle ground, we both lose. It's best for us to each do our own thing and be happy than try to come up with something we can both (just barely) tolerate. This quilt represents the only kind of compromise that really works for us...two quilts we each love smashed together rather than one quilt we both sort of hate.

compromise5

You probably recognize the pattern. It's the Made in Cherry quilt designed by Sarah Fielke. That gigantic star was so fun to make and I'd love to use the pattern again sometime.

compromise4

compromise3

The theme is carried over to the binding, the quilting and the backing. In a perfect world, a true Ian/Crystal compromise quilt would have double batting on my side (I'm always too cold) and NO batting on Ian's side (he's always too hot). Instead, I kept it simple with one layer and we'll use it in the wintertime. So far, it's a big hit with everyone and we all love it in our own way. And that's exactly what I was going for.

Vector

Thursday, February 12, 2015

To All The Quilts I've Loved Before

I've been thinking about past loves. Not boyfriends but quilts. You know the quilts I mean: the ones you can't stop thinking about, the ones you plot and plan for days, filled with the knowledge that you will love it as your favorite quilt forever and ever. The ones where you will finally use your very best, most special fabrics...because this is true love!

You know, the ones that start with a bang and end in tears, heartache or, the saddest of all: a general growing apart and eventual fading away. Hopes and dreams dashed, cold reality seeps in and you are alone yet again without a quilt to cry on.

But then, a new glimmer of hope...a new love begins to grow, this time it will be forever and ever, this time it really IS true love!

Oh yes, we have all known that heartache! We have all been there before and will be there again.

There have been so many loves! Remember my on and off again relationship with Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts? How we start off hot and heavy, all passion and then we fight and break up...only to feel the pull a few months later and start the rollercoaster all over again. We try a new ruler, a new sewing technique...but we are never truly right for each other, we can't make it work. And yet we can't stay apart. When will we stop hurting each other?

Or the Dresden Plate quilt I started and then abandoned as soon as I realized how needy those plates can be. But oh what a time we had! How we made such plans for the future! What a bittersweet ending to our brief love story!

Oh yes, I've had my share of loves that were not to be. But love them I did! And enough time has passed that I can look back on these relationships and smile. I remember the good times we had: the days we spent picking out just the right fabrics and planning just the right layout, the hours upon hours of sewing and thinking about the future photo sessions we'd have at the park or the art museum or that one brick wall we've always liked. We may not have had forever but at least we had that.

And so, it is in the spirit of celebrating these bittersweet memories that I present to you my newest quilt idea:

A Sampler Quilt

It is the best way I can think of to honor all the quilts I've loved before. Stay tuned for more information and plans. This is going to be fun!

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Fruitful Weekend

quilted

quilted2

block

extra

quilts

binding

boxes

This weekend was super fun! I basically quilted and bound everything I could find that needed quilting or binding. I finished two quilts, one two years in the making and one three years.

It was actually the first time I've used my new machine to bind anything. I'd gotten really good at binding using my old machine and was scared to try it with the new machine. And yet, I was too excited about my new machine to use my old one just for binding. So I just didn't bind anything for a few years. Because that makes sense, right?

So, this weekend I finally just did it and didn't think too much about it and it worked just fine. I attached the binding to the back first and then machine stitched it on the front.

When that was done, I actually pulled out my old machine to sew up some batting scraps. I sew them together with a zig-zag stitch which my Juki doesn't do. Boy am I happy I don't sew on that machine anymore. It's fine but it's slow and noisy and flimsy...my Juki is so, so much nicer! I ended up making about 50 batting squares for my quilt-as-you-go quilt.

That quilt is turning out to be so much fun! I'm quilting through each log which makes a square spiral...something I would not have attempted with a regular quilt. For the backs of each block, I'm digging through my stash to find my most neglected fabrics. You know the ones...even though you like them, they never seem to get used in a quilt.

I also did a lot of cleaning and organizing in the studio. Not that you can really tell right now. It's in that stage where it looks messy but is actually very close to being finished. I'm going to donate a chair and footstool that do nothing but collect all the stuff I don't feel like putting away. Once they're gone, I anticipate the room will stay much cleaner. Or I'll just start putting the stuff on the floor. One can never really know.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Extra-Cat Hearts Quilting

scraps2

scraps

blocks2

blocks

blocks3

My dad commented the other day that I have a lot of pictures of the cats on my blog. That is certainly very true. I'd like you all to know, though, that it's less that I'm obsessed with the cats and more that Extra-cat is obsessed with my sewing room. She's always in there. She's always walking on all my things. She wakes up from a dead sleep in another room as soon as she hears the camera. I get, like, one picture before there's a cat leg or head or tail in my picture. The studio doesn't have a door so I can't even lock her out. So, rather than fight it, I embrace it.

As you can see, I'm back to sewing! I spent the entire day on Friday pulling strips out of my scrap bins and sewing them into log cabin blocks. I've wanted to make a quilt as you go quilt for a long, long time. (Here are a few of my inspiration quilts!)

The blocks are all approximately 12.75" and the batting squares are 13". Once quilted, I'll trim everything down to 12.5" and start assembling the quilt (tutorial). The goal of this project (aside from making an awesome quilt) is to put a significant dent in my batting scrap stash. I love zig-zagging batting scraps together, using up every bit of batting and turning them into something useful again.

This will be a long term project (sigh...what ISN'T, right?) so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some Shawls

Multnomah

Multnomah2

Multnomah4

Follow Your Arrow

Follow Your Arrow3

blocking

A few weekends ago, I pulled one of my design walls down and blocked some finished shawls. The first is from a pattern called Multnomah. I've named this shawl "Dearest Jane" because my dearest friend Jane spun the yarn just for me.

I just feel so very special looking at this beautiful shawl, knowing that she picked out the most "Crystal" colors she could find and spun up yards and yards of it for me. I wanted to pick a very special pattern that would show off the colors to their best advantage and I think Multnomah did that beautifully.

I've been wearing this shawl when I knit my Downton shawl early on Sunday mornings. It's light and fluffy and soft and everything wonderful. Thank you, my lovely Jane! This shawl is one of my greatest treasures!

The second shawl is from a really neat pattern called Follow Your Arrow. You can make 32 different shawls using different combinations of the clues. My friend Sara bought me the pattern for my birthday and I was so, so excited! Part of the reason I love this pattern so much is because there were so many new things I learned while knitting it. Short rows, lace, knit-on edging...it was all so new and so fun!

The yarn I picked for this shawl was originally going to be a sweater but let's face it...I'm probably never going to actually make a sweater. And that's okay, because I LOVE this color combination and was so excited to use it for this shawl.

I'm not sure if I'll keep this one or not. I love it but a friend of mine saw it and practically begged me to let him buy it for his wife. I'll probably end up giving it to him and then making another version of this shawl using the opposite clues. Which will be even better because it's the exact version that Sara made!

And also, just so you know...there's a Follow Your Arrow 2 pattern out now! It's still in the "mystery knit-along" phase meaning you can't get the entire pattern yet, but the first two clues are out. I bought a copy for me and for Sara and since neither of us have time to knit it now, we're planning our own FYA2 knit along this spring. It's going to be such fun!!

Oh man, I love knitting so much! I wish I had more time to knit and I wish my wrists didn't start to hurt after just a few minutes. This knitting break will be good for me but still...I want to knit so much! Sigh...I will try to try to be patient.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Progress

downton kal7

downton kal8

downton kal9

You guys! I'm totally keeping up with the Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-Along! I said I would and I'M DOING IT! That is so unlike me. But I've been working hard to be the sort of person who actually accomplishes their goals...and so far, it's actually working!

Unfortunately, my right wrist is hurting a lot and I think I'm going to need to take a knitting break. But not a total knitting break...I want to limit my knitting time and be intentional with my projects. And right now, my Downton shawl is my priority. It's actually a very clever plan because a new clue comes out every Sunday and that's it for that week. Once I'm done, I have to wait days for the next clue. A limited amount of knitting, measurable goals, a beautiful shawl...I think it's a pretty good plan.

I'm also in love with this week's clue! This clue uses slipped stitches to make a sort of star pattern. It has a neat texture and could be inserted into any plain garter stitch pattern to add some interest.

I'm sad I already finished this week's clue but my wrists will thank me for the break. In the meantime, I'm going to do some quilting. Exciting!