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quilts, the real story

August 23, 2011

It’s been about a year since I started quilting, but I’ve barely blogged about any of it. This is because I was making three quilts at once and two of them were secret quilts for people who read my blog regularly.

Making three quilts as a initiation to quilting may sound crazy to some, but it sounds just right to me. While a lot of people are interested in making things perfect, I am more interested in making things and while they might not turn out picture perfect in the end, I end up learning more from any mistakes I make than I would learn from reading about the process in a book.

Here’s a timeline for the two baby quilts. If you’d like to see photos of the quilts, they can be found here, here and here. (It turns out that I barely took any photos of this huge project, despite the fact that it spent a year in my house.)

mid September – Three of my friends and I find out that two of our other friends are with child, and this lady convinces us to make two baby quilts despite the fact that none of us have ever quilted before in our lives.

late September – We all take a trip to the fabric store to choose fat quarters. We spend much more time there than we first planned, choosing, debating and rechoosing fabrics. In the end we end up with some that were thrown out in the first round, much to my amusement.

early November – We all get together for all-day square construction followed by pizza and beer. As soon as we decide how big the squares should be Sarah decides to make a square two inches larger than that. One of us gets frustrated with a rotary cutter. Another cuts her first batch of triangles the wrong size. I burn myself on an iron. We split up all the fabric and take it home. No squares have been finished.

December – We chat off and on about the quilt timeline. To date, I have completed the most squares. “I’m almost done.” I say. “You guys had better get to work on your squares.”
We decide to take advantage of free time over the holidays and set a deadline for ourselves: all squares will be finished by mid January.

mid January – I return from my vacation to find that everyone has finished their squares except for me. Oops.

early February – Mr. NotCharles has a birthday party. I abscond with the ladies to the crafting room to finish squares. We talk about piecing the quilt top soon, because the babies are nearly here. We reassure ourselves that the quilts don’t need to be ready before the babies are. I finally finish all my squares.

mid March – Mr. NotCharles goes away and Sarah and I spend an entire weekend at my place (with each of the other girls working one of the day shifts) finishing the squares by adding borders to ALL of them to match Sarah’s squares, which are all two inches larger. Saturday involves marshmallow peeps (not for me) and both Ghostbusters movies and Sunday involves a trip to Fabricville to buy binding, batting and backing. All of us have colds or something and we all feel different shades of terrible, but we must quilt on! I keep cutting the fabric wrong. We drink cider and eat tortilla chips and finally finish all the squares. Every conversation that begins with “I think I messed up…” ends with “…the babies won’t care.”

mid April – Sarah and I piece the quilt tops and pin the sandwiches together (with help).

Meanwhile, the babies are born, and sometime in early June we remember we were making quilts for them. We decide to get back on that, and I quilt both of them and hand them over to Sarah for the binding, which she hand sews over the course of a day or two. Now we have quilts.

But because we’re busy ladies, it took us until late August to get the quilts to the babies. The grand unveiling was this past Sunday though and it went well. The secret was out, everyone was surprised and our year’s worth of hard work was worth it.


another pair of socks

August 19, 2011

Oh hey, look at these socks. What can I say about them?

I bought the yarn back in March to possibly make some socks for my mom, but she had other yarn for me to work with.

I started them on a train somewhere in upstate NY and finished them in a hotel room in Toronto.

They were pretty much the only thing I knit on this summer. I’ve been doing other crafty stuff like quilting, embroidery and rearranging my studio space. It’s still in a state of chaos at the moment, but it’s coming together. I have all my fabric and yarn organized and I even have things set up enough to do some sewing (like those bicycle blocks I made the other day).


August 15, 2011

I have quite a few quilt projects in the works at the moment. I even spent most of the weekend cutting fabric for said projects. Here’s a glimpse of one that was keeping me up last night.

These fabrics are from a pack of coordinating half yards I bought at the end of June. It’s going to be a bike quilt! Very exciting.

new dudes

August 11, 2011

Some changes have happened here this summer. First of all, my beloved Minou moved out.

She didn’t go far, only across town to live with her father. It was bound to happen someday. Minou was never officially my cat, I merely moved into her bedroom almost six years ago and took on the role of her human, providing warmth, comfort and entertainment for her, as requested. In return she became my best friend in the whole wide world. It was a pretty good deal. I feel extremely confident in saying that there will never be a better cat in the world than Minou and I think most people who met her would agree.

Minou turned everyone she met into a cat person. She sat in your lap like she belonged there. She loved wool (to a fault) and caves and being chased around. She wasn’t a smart cat, but she knew what comfort was.

It’s a little silly to be talking about her in the past tense though, as she is alive and well and living in Rosemont. I’ve even gone to visit her in her new digs, where she’s the only cat in the house and has two balconies and her father all to herself. Even though it’s sad to not have her around anymore, I know she’ll be fine.

Just a few days after getting the news that Minou would be leaving I read this blog post. After that I pretty much knew what I had to do. These boys had to come live with me.┬áJust a week before, the only way I ever could have taken another cat in (let alone two) was if I had one less cat (not to mention an extra bedroom). When I think of the other ways that situation could have happened, I figure this one was the best possible. This way everyone is still alive and everyone still has a loving home where they’ll be taken good care of, we’ve all just been rearranged.

So last week, after lots of cleaning, some new furniture delivery, and about a month of Diva thinking she was the new queen of the apartment, the dudes moved in.

And so far, things have been… pretty much the way you’d expect when two chill dudes move in with a high maintenance lady cat.

Rock Island, part 2

August 7, 2011

I left you last (several weeks ago now) with a shawl teaser.

I think I pretty much said all the needed to be said about the making of this shawl, all that was left was some project photos and the story of how they came to be.

Well, back at the end of June I found myself killing some time before a tattoo appointment in a park on the lower East Side of NYC. The weather was gorgeous and my Mr. and I were enjoying people watching on a Sunday morning, when I suddenly realized that I had a shawl with me that had yet to be photographed. I put my Mr. to work right away on fixing that.

By his own admission, he’s not very good with a camera, but with a bit of direction he managed to get some nice shots.

It was far too hot to wear the shawl for real that day. Just wearing it for this mini photo shoot made me pretty sweaty. I’m looking forward to the change of seasons so I can get a bit more use out of it.

I have several more skeins of this yarn in various shades and I loved this project and the finished product so much that I may just make it again. I also recently discovered another (free) pattern that is very, very similar to Rock Island called My Heaven which I might also try.

Rock Island, part 1

July 15, 2011

Back in April, when Rock Island was first released, I knew immediately that I wanted to knit it. You might be surprised to hear that I’m not all that inspired by lacy shawl patterns, but there’s usually a really great modern edge to most Brooklyn Tweed patterns that stomps all over those “how will I wear this frilly thing?” thoughts.

On my trip to NYC later that same month I was in the market for laceweight, but ended up with some luscious Madeline Tosh Light Merino, which is more of a fingering weight. In fact my friends and I ALL bought skeins of this stuff. Luscious doesn’t even begin to describe it, and knitting with it is divine. I never wanted it to end.

I chose the colorway Ink, since the original version was knit with something similar. The pattern starts with this endless edging, which I remember being really boring to knit. I couldn’t imagine how 800,000 feet of edging would ever make a normal sized shawl, but it did and the rest of it was a dream to knit, since it was a lot of squishy garter stitch that got heavier and heavier, hence more and more satisfying.

I know I mentioned several posts ago that I was in the midst of a project that was staining my needles blue. Well, this was it. My bamboo needles ended up a weird shade of purply-blue the more I knit on this shawl. I really thought that when I went to block it the water would be dark blue too, but the dye only bled a little.

And then it took about a month and a half, and another trip to NYC for me to photograph it properly. That’s why this is only part 1…

Echo Flower Shawl

July 11, 2011

Don’t you hate when you’re trying to blog regularly and then everything in your life turns upside down, including your computer, and you don’t even know how to begin to get back to where you were? Well, that kind of happened over here.

However, well before that I was knitting something. And well before that (let’s say, February of 2008) I bought myself this skein of Pigeonroof Siren for my birthday.

And then it sat untouched in my stash for about three years.

I picked it up again after seeing Sarah’s Echo Flower Shawl, which I tried to make first in handspun too, and then ripped out after realizing it wasn’t the best mix of yarn and pattern.

Ravelry says I knit up this Echo Flower Shawl between Feb 20th and March 7th. I guess that was pretty quick. From what I remember, it was a fun knit. I don’t mind purling nine together to make a nupp when I can cheat (usually by slipping 6 or so, purling the rest together and then passing the slipped stitches over). It makes for a neater nupp, too.

And since Sarah’s Echo Flower was a gift for someone else, mine ended up being a gift for her.

It seems that ever since I declared 2010 the year of the gift knit I’ve been having trouble holding on to my knits. I’ve gifted 4 out of 11 knits this year. It’s a trend I’d like to continue, since I already have so many hand knit things as it is, and I don’t forsee quitting the knit anytime soon.