My Favorite Quilt (So Far)

String quilt 3I think this is it—my most favorite quilt that I’ve made so far. I have loved it since I started piecing it many years ago, and I still love it today, now that it’s finally finished.

The pattern for the quilt is from the book String Quilt Revival by Virginia Baker and Barbara Sanders. (That’s the same book I used to make String Quilt #2.) The blocks are 6.5 inches and include one piece of the four-pointed star surrounded by strings. I used a mesh stabilizer as a foundation for the blocks. It doesn’t add much weight, but it adds a lot of stability when sewing all those thin strips of fabric. (Here’s a link to purchase the stabilizer I used from the book’s authors.)

String quilt quilting

The blocks are then put together to form the stars and the secondary diamonds. I love the shapes in the quilt, so I accentuated them with the quilting. I outlined the stars and added lines to the centers. For the diamonds, I just followed the strings in kind of a modified spiral.

String quilt 4

The quilting really was a hang-up for me, as I’ve had the quilt top done for at least two years. I’ve even had it pinned for most of that time. But I was afraid I might not like the quilting, and then I’d be really sad. Finally, I decided I just wanted the quilt done. So I quilted it. And while it’s nowhere near perfect, I still love it.

String quilt 6

The finished quilt is 59 x 59 inches. The backing I used is just one fabric, a teal that pretty much matches the lighter stars. It’s also the fabric I used as the binding.

For me, this quilt is really a memory quilt—a fabric memory quilt. I love looking at all the little pieces of fabric and remembering the projects I made with each one. Baby quilts for kids who are now in middle school and high school, bags that I’ve worn out, and mug rugs I’ve given as gifts.

We’ll be updating our living room soon, and I hope to hang it in there for easy viewing whenever I want to relive a few memories.

Traveling Quilt Blocks #3 and #4

Ellen blockI’m going to miss the September meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild when we will show off our third Travel Quilt blocks and get our blocks for the fourth round. So I worked ahead a bit and made blocks for these last two rounds in August.

The block above is one I made for Ellen’s quilt. The original block she provided was pieced with curved strips (it’s peeking out from under my block below), and she suggested the theme of “movement” for the rest of the blocks. Kay made the white strip at the top of the image below, and Kim made the pinwheel block on the left.

Ellen blocks

The flying geese block I made is called Follow the Leader, and it’s from the book Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods. This book is my go-to for projects like this, as there are 99 blocks, all with very different looks. I did learn, however, that flying geese are really hard for me to make when I’m not paper piecing them. I think I sewed more than half of these guys twice to get the points close to right.

Ellen provided a lot of fabric for us to use, so the look of her blocks is very cohesive. (I added a couple fabrics from my stash, just to put a little of my own stamp on my block.) I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for her final quilt!

The other block I worked on was one for Teresa. Her original block was squares and rectangles grouped by color with a bit of white mixed in. So these are the blocks I made for her.

Teresa blocks

I had planned to sew them together into one 12.5 x 12.5-inch block. But then I started playing with them a bit. I noticed that one would fit perfectly with this little plus that Ellen made.

Teresa option 3

And they matched up nicely with the blocks Kim made.

Teresa option 1

And I really liked the way they look with Teresa’s original block.

Teresa block 4

So I’ve given the pieces to Teresa, and I’ll wait to see what she decides to do with them.

Those are the last two blocks I’ll be making for my group’s Traveling Quilt journey (see block 1 here and block 2 here). I was a bit nervous about joining in on this challenge, but I ended up enjoying the process of building on what someone else had started. I admit that not all of the blocks I made were super successful, so if they don’t appear in a finished quilt, I’ll be OK with that. But the process itself was a fun challenge.

In November, I’ll be getting my shark block back along with the blocks the other people in my group made for me. I can’t wait! And I’ll be sure to show them here.

Finished Crocheted Shawl

Crochet Shawl 3Here it is! My first finished crochet project in . . . well, a very long time. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I made it for a friend who has cancer. Her favorite color is yellow, and I am hoping this will wrap her in a bit of sunshine and warm thoughts as she recovers from surgery and goes through a second round of chemo.

Crochet Shawl 2I ended up using all five hanks of yarn that I purchased for the project. It’s 19 inches wide by 55 inches long and has a good bit of stretch to it. It’s not very fancy and has a good number of flaws, but hopefully it will bring her a smile and a bit of comfort.

The part of the process I was most worried about was blocking, as I hadn’t done that for any of my projects in the past. Blocking is the shaping of the piece, while it’s wet, using pins. I layered several fluffy towels on our laundry table and blocked the shawl on that. The towels were thick enough that the T-pins I used to hold the shawl stuck in nicely.

Crochet shawl blocked 2

Crochet shawl blockedI’m not sure, now, why I saw blocking as such a hurdle. I guess just the process of getting it all set up seemed daunting. But now that it is set up, I blocked a few granny squares. And I need to weave in the ends of a few more squares so I can block those, too. I think I see more finished crochet projects in my future!

Crochet Shawl 1

Crocheted Shawl Halfway

Shawl halfway

As promised, and to keep myself on track, here’s how far I got with my crocheted shawl this past week. I took this on vacation with me and used up all the yarn I had brought along. So just two (out of five) hanks left to go!

For me, crocheting is the perfect craft to take to the airport, to do on the plane, and to keep my hands busy while visiting with family. It continued to be difficult to think exclusively of good intentions for my friend as I crocheted, but I think the overall vibe of the shawl will be pretty good.

Next week, I hope to show the finished shawl!

Shawl halfway 2

 

 

 

 

Crocheted Shawl

Crochet shawl

I’ll admit I don’t have the best track record when it comes to finishing crochet projects. Part of it is I haven’t yet blocked any of my projects, and I have a reluctance to try (for no good reason).

But this one I am really going to finish. This shawl project is for a friend who just started cancer treatment. Her favorite color is yellow, and she’s already cold all the time. So I’m going to send her this sunny shawl to wrap up in.

I had intended for it to be a prayer shawl (where you say prayers or think of positive intentions for the recipient as you make it), but I find I have to think about the act of crocheting too much to think of anything else. Maybe once I get the pattern down better I’ll be able to think positive thoughts for her.  In the meantime, I’ve just been singing church songs in back of my mind as I crochet.

I’ll be taking a few days off for a long weekend, and I hope to get a lot done on the shawl. I’ll report back next week!

This One Was Supposed To Be Easy

Primary quilt top 3

For several weeks now, I’ve been struggling with a quilt that just ended up being really hard. It took a good bit of thought to begin with, and then it didn’t turn out quite the way I had wanted. (It’s a gift, so I’m holding off on showing it here.) Anyway, after that, I wanted to work on an easy, mindless quilt.

So I took out the Riley Blake fabric I had gotten at the Herrschners sale. There is enough going on in the fabric that I decided to let it do the work.

Riley Blake fabric

I pulled some primary-colored fabrics from my stash, along with a bit of green. Within minutes, I decided to cut the main fabric into 16″ squares (because it was going to do the work) and then sash those squares with my stash fabric. Easy! I got the whole top planned, cut, and pieced in a couple of hours.

Primary Quilt top first

So, who can tell where this is going? Yep . . . I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that I had sashed only two sides of each square, but that’s all the stash fabric I had. I tried to remedy that by adding the turquoise fabric to the two sides that didn’t have sashing on the squares. But I didn’t like that, and I didn’t want it on all four sides, either. And I didn’t like that the blue and turquoise fabrics were so similar.

The “easy” quilt top turned out to be one that I took apart. After ripping the seams and pressing the fabric, I went a lot more straightforward on my second attempt. I kept like colors together. I just did easy.

Primary quilt top 1

It’s very simple, I know. But I think it will be a nice charity quilt for a baby or preschool boy. It’s certainly bright and fun. I’m thinking about quilting it in an all-over pattern of stars. Of course, I’ll need to learn how to quilt stars. But that should be easy.

 

Traveling Quilt Block #2

Kims traveling block 3

At tonight’s Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting, I’ll be showing the quilt block I made for Kim’s Traveling Quilt. Kim had asked that everyone in the group make a mini quilt (9 inches square) and finish it with white sashing.

I’m a little nervous about what Kim with think of my block. It’s a good bit different from her original block.

Kims original traveling block

Kim’s block is quite a bit darker than mine. While she gave some of her fabrics for us to use, I wanted to add some of mine as well. For the first block I made I pulled from my stash of solids.

Kim traveling block aborted

But it just wasn’t me . . . at all. I was in an improvy mood, so I decided to try some wonky stars instead. And I’m also on a kick where I make a few blocks and then piece them into a solid background (see my Pinwheel Quilt).

Kim traveling block and mine

So, I hope she likes it. Everyone cross your fingers, OK?

Wisconsin Fun

Herrschners fabric

Earlier this month, I spent several days up in Wisconsin, at Mom and Dad’s, hanging out with family and friends. The day after I got there, Mom and I headed to the Herrschners warehouse sale. She and I went a few years ago, and I was excited to go again. Everything, including yarn and fabric, is nicely discounted, and you never know the treasures you’ll find.

Herrschners yarn

I didn’t find any yarn that caught my eye this time (which is fine since I’m still working through my yarn from last time), but I did buy a bit of fabric. It’s hard to pass up fabric at $4.99 a yard.

Herrschner fabric purchase

The first fabric on the left is for a Quilts of Valor project I hope to start soon; the next two are great boy fabrics for charity quilts; and the rest are just for me.

Moms next quilt

It wasn’t long after we got home that Mom started planning her next quilt with some of the fabrics she picked up at the sale and some from her stash.

The next day my sister Carrie and her husband Doug and my sister Jenny and her two kids came for the weekend. I noticed my niece Stella (age six) was carrying around a book she had made. She’d thumb through it every once in a while at Mom and Dad’s.

Fashion bookFashion book 2Fashion book 3

It turned out to be a fashion book. The top photo is the cover; the next one is my favorite drawing in the book (I like the lights and the pattern on the dress); and the last one is one of Stella’s favorite drawings (her other favorite drawing is also of Elsa from Frozen). It was so fun to page through it and see all her creations. She’s got a great sense of color already.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Waupaca without at least one hike around “turtle lake” at Hartman Creek State Park. Near the lake is a small outdoor amphitheater that we always stop at first.

Ivan on stage

There Ivan performed a song from The Aristocats, the play he was in recently at school. Ivan played the head dog, and when he performed for us, he started with a bit of dialog to set the scene and then launched into his song. It was just like on a recording of a musical! For the play, the kids passed around a microphone, so that’s what Ivan is holding here.

Jenny on stage

For the last twenty years, at least, any time we come to this stage, Jenny performs a stirring recitation of the poem “Queen Anne’s Lace.” She first read the poem in one of our old Childcraft books.

Stella on trail

We didn’t see any turtles on the lake. But there were lots of dragonflies on the trail. And a silly six-year-old.

Hartmans spider

And a dam with a gigantic spider on an old piling.

Hartmans ferns

A few days later, Mom and Dad and I went back to the park to take the Allen Lake trail. I love the gorgeous ferns!

Birthday fabric

Finally, the weekend included a bit of a birthday celebration for me. My sister Carrie gave me a compact, absorbent towel for my car (with a “Don’t Panic” label on it, for all you Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy fans) and a lovely scarf. My sister Jenny let me select a piece of vintage fabric from a treasure trove of fabric she picked up at a yard sale. I selected this border print. I can’t decide if I’ll make a skirt or a quilt with it, but the piece is large enough for either.

It was a great trip, as usual. And I’m a lucky girl to have an awesome family I love hanging out with.

Finished Pinwheel Challenge Quilt

Pinwheel Challenge Quilt sideHere it is—my finished Pinwheel Challenge Quilt! As I mentioned in my first post on this quilt, I received the fabrics as part of the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge through the Modern Quilt Guild. All the pinwheels were made with the challenge fabric, and I added the solids and a bit more of one of the challenge fabrics.

Pinwheel Challenge quilt final

For the quilting, I just echoed around the pinwheel shapes, which got a little wacky as I got further out and the pinwheel echoes collided. I probably should have drawn more of these echo lines to ensure they were straight. But I just went for it, so some of them are more than a bit off. For the orange strip and bottom fabric, I just quilted intersecting wavy lines. I hoped maybe this would conceal the crookedness of the bottom fabric a bit.

Pinwheel Challenge quilt backHere’s the back of the quilt. I like that you can see the quilting of the pinwheels (although from this distance, you can’t see the closed part of the pinwheel and can only see the outline, which looks a bit like an unfortunate symbol—let’s ignore that).

After I bring this quilt to the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting tonight and I get a label put on, it will be off to Project Linus. I hope it brings someone a bit of joy.

Closed: Book Giveaway!

Kosbab book cover As some of you may know, I’m fortunate enough to make my living editing craft books. Someone has to do it, but I sometimes can’t believe I’m one of the lucky few who read craft books and work with craft authors every day.

One book I worked on recently was The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop by Kevin Kosbab. In it, the author explores three different appliqué methods—raw-edge appliqué, prepared-edge appliqué, and needle-turn appliqué—and presents projects using each.

For this particular book, I didn’t actually see the projects until I received a copy of the printed book. And I love them! The style is modern with a retro feel. And even though I’ve done only raw-edge appliqué to this point, I definitely want to try my hand at the other two methods, too.

Kosbab table runner projectThis table runner project is in the prepared-edge chapter as the white appliquéd circles are made from bias strips. Appliqué, bias strips, and curves?! Yeah, I know, but see how cute it looks!

Kosbab pillow projectAnother favorite project of mine features these pillows. The trees are needle-turned and the tree centers are hand embroidered. For me, a project like this is just about slowing down and taking the time to do some hand work. I enjoy it when I’m doing it, but it seems hand projects rarely make it to the top of my to-do list. This pillow might be the exception…

The exciting news is I have an extra copy of this book to give away to one of my blog readers! Just comment on this blog post by midnight EST on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. One person will be chosen at random on June 12, 2014 to receive a copy of The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop by Kevin Kosbab absolutely free! This contest is open to everyone—family, friends, and non-quilters alike. Your comment can be anything—say hello, state your favorite kind of appliqué, or just share something about a project you’re working on now. To leave a comment, you do need to include your e-mail address, but only I will be able to see your e-mail; it won’t appear in the comments.

Good luck!

 

UPDATE

And we have a winner! Peg, it’s you! I’ll be e-mailing you to ask for your address. Thanks to all who entered—I really appreciate it!

 

 

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