Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spindle-licious!

I have a new spindle! Actually, it's now no longer my newest spindle, but it's a newer spindle.

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It's a Wildcraft spindle that I bought from the Spinning Loft, along with a poof of possum/cashmere/merino that remains unphotographed. I'm kinda in love with this spindle.

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I haven't spun anything from fluff to yarn on it yet, but I did play and ply with this lovely spindle. I'd tried a while back to figure out chain plying on a spindle and my first attempts were mild successes in that, yes, I made some kind of yarn.... But, I didn't do it well. Practicing the technique would be ideal, but instead I set the idea aside and focused my energy on doing spinny things that I already knew how to do reasonable well. For instance, this gorgeous 3-ply:

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I used an oatmeal BFL combo - Majestic and Deep Thoughts (Southern Cross Fibre) and a bump of BFL I picked up from Briar Rose Fibers while at Rhinebeck. I actually spun the BRF BFL super-fine and had a bit left over that led to me practicing chain-plying on a spindle - I mean, what else was I gonna do with less than an ounce of super-fine singles?

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And a shot for perspective - wee little skein and pretty wild spindle!

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I feel like I really got the hang of chain plying on a spindle and even enjoyed it, but it's definitely more of a slow and steady activity for me. I think this little skein measures just around 50 yards and it's a little finer than sock weight. I love the fuzzy halo on it and hope I can use it in a project that will showcase rather than hide it. If not, I'll just keep it on my nightstand and pet it before drifting off to sleep.

I'm hoping to have a blog post soon about the wonderful Spinning Loft Spring 2010 Retreat I just attended. I fell in love with a closet, got bested by a jetted tub, and learned new words (like blumpkin. Really, don't Google it...). I also learned spinning and fiber prep techniques and spent more hours spinning than I thought possible! It was, in a word, wonderful. I can't wait to share it with you!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Third time really is the charm

When my dear friend Kate revealed she and her husband were expecting, I knew I just had to make her a wee quilt. More than serving as my go-to quilt guru, she's known in her circle of friends for creating magnificent scrappy and designer quilts to celebrate and commemorate life's milestones. I'd been trying to come up with a way to show my appreciation for all her help and encouragement, you know, a way to say, "Thanks, friend!". Admittedly, I got the inspiration for the quilt a little later in her pregnancy than I should have - I should have started planning and searching for patterns and fabric back in November when she shared the news. Instead, I found the fabric in Connecticut on the way home from helping my sister move into her new place in late January: Arcadia by Sanae for Moda.

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Ready for seaming!


This would be my first time working with a pre-cut stack and I wanted to make sure I made the most of each little bit, so I started looking for patterns. My first stop was Moda Bake Shop - after all, the pre-cut was a Moda layer cake - and after just a few minutes of browsing the different patterns, I settled on one that looked perfect AND, as an added bonus, used the same fabric that I'd bought!

This would be my first quilt that followed a real pattern, so I took my time, measured twice, and carefully cut just once. As I pressed open each seam, I couldn't help but grow more and more excited about this quilt.

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One half of the original plan.


I had grand plans for laying out the different squares *just so* and even tried to apply some level of logic to it - if pattern A is here, then pattern D must share the seam - so, I took great care in laying out the pieces and taking photos of the order I wanted.

Layer Cake Quilt
...and the other half of the original plan.


That's not how it went down though - whatever order I'd wanted was forgotten and it's just as well. There's no real point in making things more stressful than they have to be, right? And with a deadline on this quilt (finish it before the baby shower), I figured that would be stress enough! I pieced the top and then attached the border, thrilled that I'd had the foresight to set aside the squares of fabric that were the more neutral of the bunch.

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Less than perfect seams that are, actually, just perfectly fine!


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Border!


I cruised right along with this quilt top and hit a snag only when I tried to come up with a suitable backing fabric. At first I considered doing the same pattern for the back, making the quilt totally reversible. And while the pattern was definitely the easiest thing I've done on my sewing machine, I found the idea of a solid back more appealing. I considered yardage from the Arcadia line, but couldn't pick just one. I considered something more neutral and even picked up a yard or two of Me & My Sister's Nesting Stripe Brown to see how that worked with the quilt top.

But then, I found myself browsing some fabric/quilting blog or another and read about The Fabric: Sweetwater's Make Life Silly! I thought it was perfect in so many ways: expectant parents are making life, having a baby makes life crazy and new and different, and when the dust settles, we're still able to make the most of our little lives. The multi-colored print also tied in nicely with the colors of the quilt top, don't you think?

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I would make this quilt again and again.


I knew I wanted to use the Make Life... fabric for the binding, but I didn't want it to get lost on the back. Fortunately, I had quite a bit of the border pieces leftover from the front borders and I quickly attached them to a large cut of the backing. I used a straight, horizontal line with a tangerine-colored thread for the quilting and spaced the lines randomly. I tried to do the continuous binding technique on this quilt, too, but missed some important step it seems. No worries - it came out fine.

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Quilting and borders and binding, oh my!


I enlisted the help of Mike for a quick photo shot:

BaBoJo quilt photo shot
In that one shot, I told him to love the quilt. He did a good job, eh?


Then, it was time to give the quilt to the parents-to-be. Referencing a seemingly old joke, we wrapped it in a tarp and presented it along with the other gifts. The shower invitation suggested we bring a 1/4 yard or more of fabric that reminded us of the parents-to-be with the hope that Kate could one day make a wonderful scrappy quilt from it. I thought it would be fun to wrap the tarp (which wrapped the quilt) with the remaining yard and half of the Make Life Silly fabric. Kate was initially very excited about the fabric more than the gift it wrapped, though that might be because she thought she was only getting a tarp.

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Kate and Nate tell the story of the tarp.
Not surprisingly, it originated with my husband.

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Kate gets a little verklempt as she realizes the
quilt's been for her wee one all along.


Thank you, once again, Kate, for turning me onto quilting. I cannot wait to meet your new little person and I hope that whatever you do, you make life silly!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A quilt for Alex

Before finishing the quilt for Iris, I knew that I wanted to make one for her older brother, Alex. In a moment of frustration (my machine needed service!), I visited Etsy and went crazy on fabric for an Alex-appropriate quilt: trains, planes, and diggers!

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I followed no real pattern and actually spent a lot of time playing around with the different sequences before settling on a square and strip sort of thing.

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I pushed the limits of my little Singer when quilting this one - I did wide, long zig zag stitch on the diagonal and then went back and did the same stitch horizontally. It turned out great - I just wish I had used construction site yellow instead of all purpose white thread.

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The fabrics for this quilt were of different weights and I neglected to pre-shrink them. So, when I did wash the quilted top, I had some fraying. I used a short and wide zig zag stitch to pull those sections together and am not unhappy with how that turned out!

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Using the technique that Kate showed me for the continuous binding, I finished off the quilt with different length scraps. Everything was ready just in time for a birthday ... nap!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Little girl quilt

Sometime in December, just as the holiday rush was starting to settle in for a final push, I got it into my head that I needed to make a quilt for my favorite little stink-eyed girl (I say that with love). I already had the perfect fabric, too - Heather Ross's Far, Far Away cotton gauze, Unicorns in every color!
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Using four of the five colors, I cut the fabric into 6" squares and then arranged and sewed four squares into a large square. Then, I used the remaining color (the orange, in this case - I felt that each of the other prints had something orange and this would make it easy to tie it all together) as sashing.
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I backed it with a teal corduroy I'd picked up at a crafty yard sale and then did a simple straight-line quilting.
patchwork on quilt back

The corduroy had a couple of worn spots - it was clean and totally usable, it just might have sat folded for too long - and you can see in the photo above that I had to do some minor patchwork. This is probably my favorite part of the quilt!
quilt backing

My friend Kate helped me to understand the intricacies of the continuous binding and before I knew it, I was done my first quilt. After a quick run through the delicate cycle, I ran down to give the quilt to its recipient. I think she liked it.
quilt in use
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