Monday, April 27, 2015

Sparkling Diamond

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Sparkling Diamond...that's the name that popped into my head the second I got the idea for this quilt. I finished up the top fairly quickly and then stowed it in the closet for a few years. It was going to be a quilt for me, like all the quilts I ever start. Only...I don't feel that way anymore. Now instead of keeping all my quilts, I feel like giving some away to friends and family. I want to send them out into the world to new homes, to be loved by other families.

This quilt went to live at my friend Jen's house. She's one of my best friends and also my best quilting friend. We talk about quilts a lot! Before her, I never knew how amazing it is to have a friend who understands this huge part of my life. I mean, Ian will listen to me talking about quilts as long as I'm willing to keep talking...and he does have certain opinions on things like fussy cutting and Dresden plates...but it's not the same as talking to someone who actually quilts. Someone who has made a quilt before...who knows how fun it is to cut up fabric and then sew it back together.

And so, it felt really good to finish this quilt and send it to my lovely friend. Ian is jealous...he really liked this one, unlike most of the quilts I make (just so you know, he does NOT like the Velvet Petals quilt...the nerve!). I tried echo quilting for the first time. I also tried using a bone folder to mark the quilt (similar to a hera marker) and it worked really well.

It'll be another month before I have another finished quilt to show you. I'm hoping to finish and baste one of the Liberty 4-patch tops this weekend (the other will be on hold for a while...I'm a little 4-patched out). I just bought some aqua Liberty fabric to use for binding but I have no idea what to do for backing. I need to figure it out soon if I want to stay on schedule. What would you use? I was thinking of using actual Liberty fabric but that would be SUPER expensive.

Liberty

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Velvet Petals

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I finished THREE quilts this weekend! One was for a very dear friend and the other two are for me. First, the ones for ME!

I was inspired a month ago to make a small quilt to use out on the balcony. It's a bit chilly in the mornings here (and, well, entire days are still chilly sometimes) and it would be so nice to have a lovely quilt for just such occasions.

One balcony quilt was inspired by a stack of Anna Maria Horner velvet and Denyse Schmidt corduroy that I bought a long time ago. One day I just really felt the need to use it up. So I cut the biggest squares I could and sewed them all together into a quilt top.

This was my first time sewing velvet and corduroy. I will say two things about it: they shifted a bit while sewing but not as much as I imagined they would. And two: they are so, so soft and drapey and I LOVE it. Both fabrics feel like velvety flower petals!

To keep this quilt as drapey and soft as possible, I skipped the batting and backed it with flannel. I also used cotton voile for binding. Right now, I feel like this is my favorite quilt to date. The prints, the texture, the drape...it's all just so perfect!

You've already seen progress pictures of the second quilt. It's made with scraps of Flea Market Fancy and other Denyse Schmidt prints and Kona snow, backed in a soft yellow gingham. Bright, pretty, simple, perfection!

I'm so excited to have TWO balcony quilts to offer to visitors during our balcony parties or to use myself on chilly mornings and evenings. Turns out life if pretty great when you can pair a balcony with a quilt.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Grilling!

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It's officially balcony season at our house. Ian and I have eaten outside every night this week. We even had our first grilled dinner...tofu, halloumi, grilled bread and veggies...my favorite! Last night we had kimchi fried rice (made with Ian's homemade kimchi).

I've started calling Extra-cat "Little Naughty" because she's always up on that railing. She loves it so much and is so proud to walk along it when you call to her. My heart skips a beat! But she is so, so sad when she has to stay in the house...one paw sneaking under the door. Sigh...it's going to be a long summer.

In the evenings I've been knitting my Follow Your Arrow 2 shawl. And when I'm caught up on that, I work on my Downton Abbey shawl. Almost finished with clue 5...just two clues to go.

I have a four day weekend coming up and I'm SO excited! At the very least I want to bind two quilts. I have an entire to-do list full of fun sewing and knitting things including working on my Liberty 4-patch blocks and cutting squares for my Great Grandma Quilt. Expect lots of updates next week!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Paintbox Quilt

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I finished another quilt this weekend. This time a baby quilt for my cousin and his wife. I'd completed the top a long time ago and it was just waiting for the perfect baby to come along. I thought about making a completely new top but this one just fit so well with their tastes. It's backed in a soft green flannel and I skipped the batting entirely. It makes for a nice drapey, wrapable baby quilt.

Some of you may recognize this pattern. It's the Paintbox Quilt by Oh Fransson. The quilt-along information is no longer on her blog but the Paintbox QAL group is still on flickr.

Finishing up this quilt was so fun and brought up so many memories. I remembered the days when everyone was doing quilt-alongs on their blogs. I remembered how many blogs I used to read every day, how many ideas and tutorials and new fabrics were swirling around. It was a really fun and overwhelming and inspiring time in my life. A time when I didn't really create much for myself. I mostly read about other people creating things and it FELT like I was always creating something. But I wasn't.

I hopped around, one idea leading to the next. I tried a few things, never finished anything, never really made anything that came from my own head. I always felt busy but I never accomplished anything.

Then I took a break from my blog and accidentally ended up taking a break from everyone else's blogs too. And now I'm back and blogs are not the same. Some are abandoned, some are revamped. A few are the same warm, welcoming spaces I remember. I have come to appreciate those quite a bit.

I hear that people are on Instagram and most conversations and community events happen there now. Or do they? I don't know...I'm not on Instagram because I don't have a smart phone or tablet. And it's probably best that I don't. I worry about getting lost again.

I'm enjoying my little world right now. I have a few blogs I read and I peruse flickr once in a while. But mostly I'm just making things. Finishing up old quilts, coming up with ideas for new quilts. It's been really fun. It hasn't been overwhelming. I don't feel the pressure I once did to keep up, to make new things and write tutorials and buy fabric all the time. Now I just make things because I want to.

Things are really good right now. I hope things are really good for you too.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cottage in the Woods

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Ian and I went up north to visit my parents this weekend. While I was there, I found this quilt in my bedroom closet. Both of my great grandmas quilted but no one knows who made this one. I wish I knew.

Whoever it is made some interesting quilting decisions. Like, there are two different sized rectangles here...alternating rows of almost square rectangles and slightly thinner rectangles. Why cut just barely different sized rectangles? Or this quilt that uses a different shade of green on one end (I assume to make the quilt longer) but then cuts off the side squares in a weird spot (and also sort of crookedly).

The same fabrics appear in both quilts so I'm pretty sure they were made by the same person. But who? I guess I won't ever know and it's not like I can ask them why they made these decisions anyway.

So, back to the quilt. Isn't it so ugly/pretty? I remember looking at these fabrics as a kid, fascinated by all the different prints. I loved the riotous mash of colors and patterns. My mom used to look at this quilt when SHE was a kid and tried to find all the squares that were cut from her old pajamas.

I'd love to make a quilt like this for my own little (someday) cottage in the woods. I'm going through my scrap bins and cutting one or two 4.5" squares from any piece that's big enough. I'll need about 500 squares to make this big enough for our bed.

In other "someday cottage in the woods" news, I just framed up this darling print from my most favorite artist, Emily W. Martin. This one is called "In the Spring, She Married a Bear".

Monday, April 6, 2015

Kind of Springtime

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More quilting, more cats lying on quilts that are for people who are allergic to cats. Sorry Jen.

You can tell it's starting to be springtime because Ian is starting to make delicious foods for no reason. It's slowly becoming fun to cook things again...things with fresh vegetables, bright colors and light, delicate tastes. It's happening, people!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Balcony Season

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Last week we had snow. Can you believe it? It was 70 degrees one day and the next it was snowing. And yesterday we hit 85 and had our first thunderstorm. Crazy!

Through most of it, I was inside quilting. I'm nearly finished with my balcony blanket. I had just enough scraps and Kona snow to make a lap sized blanket. I also had just enough of the lightweight yellow gingham for the backing. This quilt was meant to be!

As soon as it's bound (in red, I think), I'll put it out on the couch on the balcony. It'll be the perfect size for pulling around shoulders or tucking in around ankles when the mornings are a bit chilly. I can't wait for some reliable weather so I can set up the balcony for the season!