just a peek ...

Of what is now a finished quilt top, that has been quilted, and only has 1/4 of the binding left to sew! Pictures of the finished product soon!

stack 'n whack

Or, how to turn this fabric (see above) into ....

this ....

and this ....

Saturday, I took another awesome quilting class at the Golden Triangle Fabric Center. We learned Bethany Reynolds' "magic stack 'n whack" technique, and boy did it expand my quilting horizons! Basically, you make "stacks" of fabric, and then "whack" (cut) triangles from them of the same pattern repeat. These triangles then make up hexagons (or squares or octagons, depending on your pattern) that have an amazing kaleidoscope effect. Having no clue about what was an effective fabric for this technique, I showed up to class with this fabric in hand:

Which I quickly learned created pretty lackluster results. See my first hexagon below--it looks just like the original fabric! So much for the kaleidoscope effect.

So, with the encouragement of my instructor and classmates, I picked out this wild fabric for attempt number two. Definitely not fabric I would normally be drawn to! I was honestly a little nervous making my purchase, thinking "what have I been talked into?" But the results are awesome .... see my favorite blocks above and below. I've made just enough to make another baby quilt ... and a very trippy baby quilt at that! Now I just need to decide how to piece the blocks together. The pattern it's based on suggests piecing the blocks into vertical stripes, with vertical strips of complementary fabric in between. Or I could see making some diamonds in between the blocks ... we'll see.

chasing the knitting mojo

I've been chasing my knitting mojo for awhile now ... first, I overdid with Christmas knitting (squeezing out three sets of gloves/mittens and two hats in a week ... never a good idea). Then it's been a string of dud projects that have sparked more frustration than exhileration over my knitting lately. What's odd is that I've purchased some amazing yarn this year, at local yarn stores and at my big adventure at STITCHES South. When I look at that yarn, I get excited and want to cast on for something. But then the feeling goes away. I'm hoping these two projects will turn it all around ... for the first time in months they've got my fingers itching to work on them whenever I can.
Butternut Scarf, pattern by Anne Hanson
I found some gorgeous, hand-dyed lace yarn at STITCHES. This is "Clotho" by Spirit Trail Fiberworks, an independent dyer out of California. It is sooo fun to knit with--the color has such depth, and is constantly changing. Some of my favorite hues of blue are in this skein, so knitting with it is a real treat. Technically, this is my third lace knit--I finished a Foliage hat in the Christmas knitting brigade, and Hey, Teach is sitting on my dresser waiting for buttons (one of the dud projects). But this one by far appears to be the most complicated. I was nervous casting on for the pattern, worried I'd picked another pattern that would be a little too difficult for me. But looks are deceiving! This stitch pattern is awesome--very easy to memorize, and doesn't require too much brain power, yet looks much more complicated. Perfect.

Crosshatch Lace Socks, pattern by Charlene Schurch
And this is mojo-busting project numero dos, a pair of lace socks. Another easy to memorize, fun, fast pattern. And gorgeous Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn! These are a thank you gift, so I have a deadline to keep me knitting and not let my lack of mojo slow my progress.

quilting contemplations

I've been hit with the quilting bug hard after the success of the baby quilt ... and honestly, I blame it on the satisfaction of hand sewing the binding. That feeling--the satisfaction of completion--gave me this overwhelming urge to dig through some piles of fabric, start cutting, and begin sewing another quilt right now. In doing my research for the baby quilt, I ran into a book that has only fed this urge. And I've been pouring over it, looking for inspiration for my next ambitious project ... making a light-weight, summer quilt for my king-size bed.

The quilts in this book are just simply stunning ... and really opened my eyes to the potential of quilting. I love traditional quilts, but I really don't want to make anything that looks too "grandma." The quilts in this book are anything but grandma!

This last quilt is my personal favorite ... but I realize that piecing circles is waaaay beyond my skill level at this point. Sigh ... someday. But it's led me to realize that I'm really drawn to quilts with diagonal lines ... For example, I've been lusting over Erin's string-x quilt for months now (she finished it last August). She provided a great, detailed explanation of how she constructed hers.

String X Quilt, by Erin at House on Hill Road

And this one, a gorgeous nine-patch and diagonal cross quilt by Wanda Hetrick that Jan at Be*Mused posted earlier this month.
But I'm also considering the zig zag quilt. Anna Maria Horner posted a great free pattern for one earlier this year. It's basically piecing a bunch of triangles, which I feel confident I could handle. But is it too Charlie Brown? Maybe if I went with a more complementary color scheme it would seem less busy to me ... but if I pick colors with little contrast, what's the point of piecing the zig zags?? Not so sure about this one ...
Folk Dance Quilt, by Anna Maria Horner

And pinwheels ... Material Obsession has some really inspiring customer quilts posted on their blog. I love how cheerful and bright these color combinations are.
Like this one ...

and this one ...

But honestly, that amount of fiddly piecing is beyond my skill level (and time and patience) at this point. I need something much more speedy if I'm going to finish a king-size quilt top before the arrival of the little bambino. So I'm seriously contemplating the diagonal cross pattern now ... I stumbled upon this great tutorial online for creating the blocks ... or the string-x quilt. The real question is ... which would be more fiddly and frustrating?

extreme nursery makeover

My major accomplishment during my absence? Whipping the nursery into shape ... a process that started during spring break in March and was finished in April (with minor tweaks and organizing still in progress, thanks to my nesting stage). Step one, walls painted a cheery yellow and putting together the crib. Step two, spraypaint hubby's old dresser a pastel pink (I skipped all the painting, no noxious fumes for the little bambino!). After that dried, I used wood glue to attach the most adorable painted wood animals my mom found at Michael's. Step three, sew like a madwoman. I successfully sewed the crib bumpers, crib skirt, and quilt (see quilt top below). Binding was my favorite part of the quilt-making process. :-D

I still need to trim the selvedge and add a hem to the cute butterflies and bugs fleece I bought to cover hubby's old recliner. The recliner is sooo comfy, but was an unattractive brown that stuck out like a sore thumb when surrounded by so much pink and yellow. My mom had the ingenious suggestion of covering it with a fleece blanket--not only will it make the recliner "blend in," it'll make for easy mess clean-up (just toss in the washing machine)! Excellent.

to be continued ...

So much craftiness has happened in the past month, and no posts to show for it! I blame it entirely on the fact that my memory card reader has been on the fritz ... well, that and the fact that I can't stand to post without a photo of some sort. As soon as I can retrieve my images, there will be a parade of posts to document my progress.

Until then, here's a synopsis:
--yummy yarn has been added to my stash
--one baby sweater is near completion, another one is well underway
--baby quilt blocks are under construction
--I've been swooning over some new quilting books
--the nursery has been painted a cheery yellow
--project makeover on the guest bathroom is near completion
--the cross-stitch bug has hit me in full force

cast on ...

Project Spectrum officially begins tomorrow! Our first cardinal direction? North. The associated color? Green. My first project? The "Classic Silk Open Cardigan" from Classic Elite Yarn's spring pattern booklet, New Harbor. I'm knitting from my stash for once ... some Elann Callista (colorway: peacock) I'd originally purchased for another CEY pattern. I'm hoping for an uber-productive PS4, considering the long laundry lists of sewing, knitting, and general crafting projects I have planned in anticipation of baby. I hope to be a little more consistent this go-round as well--last year I started off strong, but fell off the wagon during the last few months.

... and zipped up

my first successful zipper

My beginning sewing class ended today with a skill on my "must learn--pronto" list ... the zipper! I can't believe how professional the results are, and with such relative ease! Must replicate procedure ASAP so I don't forget! With this skill learned, I now can seriously consider attempting my latest acquisition ... a summer maternity dress pattern. Specifically, view "B" below. Cute, huh? In my brief searches so far, I've quickly discovered that the availability and selection for maternity patterns is meager at best.

swingy and oh-so-cool, this will get me through that last trimester

I'll have to tackle another "must learn" skill for me to attempt another recent pattern acquisition ... the button hole. Aren't these rompers adorable? Pretty simple, too, other than the pesky button hole.

In a cute, soft cotton gingham, perhaps?

Lots of good stuff in this pattern!

my first smocking

Here are the results of the smocking class I took last Saturday. The verdict? Sooo much fun! This could be addictive. It combines one of my old, and neglected loves--embroidery--with my new obsession, sewing. Very dangerous. We practiced basic stitches last Saturday, and then we'll combine them to follow an actual smocked panel pattern during this week's class. Now we just need to convince our instructor to offer a second class, teaching us how to insert the smocked panels into actual garments!

it's a zoo

Alexander Henry's "2D Zoo"

Fueled by my recent sewing successes, I've decided that I want to sew my own crib accessories (bumpers, blanket, etc.). We'll see if I'm being overly-ambitious ... but if my plans backfire, I'll just buy something from the store, no big deal. :-D After making this decision, I had envisioned some cute, modern fabric with lions and animals--totally gender neutral. Then I spotted Alexander Henry's "2D Zoo" and fell in love. Guess who now owns five yards, courtesy of eBay? Now I just need to, ahem, purchase a crib. Oh, and a sewing pattern would be helpful too ...

sweet smocking

This is what I'll be learning how to do today ... smocking! This sweet dress was mine when I was a little girl. I love embroidery ... I'll just need to get my sewing up to snuff to create some garments to insert the smocked panels into!

yellow week :: day five

sewing success

Week two of my beginning sewing class, and look at what I came home with! Sooo exciting. This is by far the cutest and most professional-looking thing I have ever sewed, and I am so inspired to dive into more sewing projects now. My first time using fusible interfacing, and my first time topstitching (see below). I was terrified every second of stitching it, especially since I chose a print that really didn't allow for a forgiving, blend-in-the-background thread choice. But I did pretty well, if I do say so myself!

Look at me, I'm relatively straight!

We even put in a lining and pocket.

The pattern was soo easy, I left the store with material for a second tote, which I whipped out the next day. It turned out even better than the first! Watch out world, I'm going to become a tote-bag making machine.

I love this print on the vertical ...

Cat inspected and approved.

yellow week :: day two

love that sun shining through

yellow week :: day one

Play along! To see a list of who's participating, visit Erin's blog.

bambino blankies

Baby blankets are how I got my start in knitting (well, once I got past the prerequisite beginner's garter stitch scarf!). My first knitting projects were all motivated by the desire to give an expecting friend a sweet, soft, handknit baby gift. So baby blankets have a fond place in my heart. My favorites use wild-colored, variegated yarn, and I've already been working to replenish my stash in that arena. I need to make at least two blankets ... I've listed these in the order of my desire/realistic estimation of whether or not I'll attempt to knit them.
  1. Basketweave. I have an old, tattered copy of a pattern my Mom sent me, and it's my go-to for baby blankies. I'll definitely make my kiddo one. I haven't found the actual pattern I use on Ravelry, but this one is close.

  2. Easy Ripple Baby Blanket. Easy, but not nearly as boring as plain stockinette. Perfect.

  3. Barbara Breiter's Teddy Bear Blanket. What can I say? I really enjoy visual patterns created from simple knitting and purling. Barbara provides a ton of options to choose from on her website.

  4. I love this Estonian lace pattern. I love that it's not too intricate, but still visually interesting--and definitely not too girly, either. With a worsted weight pattern option, this is a definite contender.

  5. The intarsia animals on Nicky Epstein's Animal Antics pattern make my heart skip a beat. And I'm pretty sure my local library actually has a copy of the book the pattern is published in ... my biggest obstacle on this one would be getting over my fear of intarsia.

  6. The Apple Core blanket is sooo awesome, but the thought of all that finishing makes me want to cry.

  7. OpArt by Melissa Dominguez looks very cool--and not nearly as painful in terms of finishing as the Apple Core blanket. if I snag two colors that will combine well for the stripes, this one will get added to the queue.

  8. If the baby is a girl, the Flower Baby Blanket is being knitted FOR SURE.

bambino sweaters

          Realistically, sweaters aren't a huge baby wardrobe necessity in Mississippi. But we do hit the freezing point off and on for about three months of the year, and babies can't regulate their body heat as well and need more layers ... not to mention that it would just be a crime for me not to knit at least one. I'm already half-done with the first sweater on my list. Sock yarn sweaters seems to be a good choice for our climate, considering that they make thin sweaters that are perfect for layering and won't be stifling hot. I'm limiting myself to no more than three sweaters in big sizes, since I have no idea how big lil' bambino will actually be by the time our chilly season rolls around.

          1. Red Heart, Heart and Sole Baby Pleasure Pullover :: In progress, using the Tequila Sunrise colorway. (I have to admit that I am not so much a fan of this colorway now that I've knitted it, but I've finished too much of the sweater to quit now. What looked gender neutral on the skein looks pretty boyish to me now... I have enough yarn to make a second sweater in the Green Envy colorway, which looks much cuter.)
          2. Seedling (Rav link) by Jil Eaton, in the book Minnies: Quick Knits for Babies and Toddlers. To be cast on using a sunny yellow Lion Brand Homespun.
          3. Some variation of a baby kimono ... but which pattern? Lately I've been admiring Carina Spencer's version and Jacki Kelly's version. Carina's is written for worsted weight, while Jacki's is for DK so maybe I'll let the yarn make my decision. I've got some DK/sport weight green Baby Bee yarn that would be cute worked up in this sweater style ... or a green/yellow/white variegated colorway. Can't decide.
          4. If the baby's a girl ... Helena will be knitted FOR SURE. Soooo adorable. And the 5-Hour Baby Sweater too ... oh yeah.

          project plannin'

          My knitting mojo has been floundering lately. After some last-minute, intense knitting for Christmas presents, I completely burned myself out. Thankfully, I have a great group of ladies to knit with each week that's kept me going--but for the past month or so, knitting's definitely been on the backburner.

          Despite my slump, my mind is filled with projects I want to make. The fingers just haven't been as willing as my mind to keep up! Lolly's recent announcement of the theme for Project Spectrum 4 on Ravelry has inspired me to do some prioritization and organization around here ... priority numero uno right now is baby knitting. My southern summer baby will be arriving in July, so no winter garments necessary, but I can't turn off the urge to knit. Baby blankets, toys, a handful of sweaters that will get rarely used ... you know, the basics. Ironically, the colors for the first two months of the "Cardinal Directions" theme for PS4 are perfect for my baby knitting--yellow and green. Which I've already been stocking up in, en masse. :-D

          So my goal in the next couple of posts is to zero in on exactly what I want to make for the lil' bambino ... in an attempt to quit distracting myself with all the millions of amazing patterns out there! And prioritize a few projects for myself, of course. :-D

          If you haven't participated in Project Spectrum before, I highly encourage you to do so. Last year my participation was sporadic, but the Ravelry group is amazingly encouraging and fun to be part of (even if it's only to lurk and admire everyone's amazing work!).


          First up in the project planning/wish list---toys! I haven't attempted any since my felted flamingo (details on Ravelry), but I've been meaning to for a long time. These cuties are top priority in my queue!

          Raynor Gellatly's Jelly Bums Lion
          (details on Ravelry)

          Tums the Hippo by Anna Hrachovec
          (details on Ravelry)

          Elijah by Ysolda Teague
          (details on Ravelry)

          Otto by Ysolda Teague
          (details on Ravelry)

          2021 year in review

            Who would have thought that the second year of a pandemic would be worst than the first, in terms of crafting mojo? Not I. But this chart ...