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.

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 ...