WIP Wednesday - Linen stitch cowl

These two skeins of amazingly soft Mista Alpaca Hand Painted Chunky were an impulse purchase at my mother's local yarn store in Ontario last month.  I bought it with a different cowl pattern in mind, but a few days ago I realized that the short 1-2" lengths of colour lent themselves perfectly to the linen stitch.  So, without a pattern, I cast on.  My plan is to knit it to the length where it wraps around my neck twice, and then join seamlessly using the provisional cast on I started with.  (Learned how to do that here - what did we DO before youtube??).
This yarn is so soft and gorgeous I can't wait to finish this cowl and wear it!
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday Finishes - Clothes for the kid

Got a lot of little finishes to show you this week!  I quit that awful job and so have been enjoying my time as a stay at home mom to a little one who goes to preschool 9-3:30.  I haven't had this much time to sew alone since I was pregnant!  It's been wonderful.
First up was a pair of Mini Hudson pants.  She's 3, so I made the size 3.  The sweatshirt material was nice and thick, which helps because they are a bit too big.  I went down to a size 2 for the next pair (the green stripes).  (I bought the white fabric from The Sweet Mercerie, an online shop based in Portugal.  I have a hard time finding nice fabric here (as evidenced by the green stripe fabric above!), so finding a well-stocked shop within Europe is handy, since I don't have to pay customs.)
I also used a Mccall's pattern (M6224) that I bought last year in Canada to finally whip her up a pair of pajama pants.  For some reason the sizing was huge - I made her a 1 year size!  I'm currently making her the robe (in matching pink whale fleece!) that I cut as a size 3 so I hope she is able to wear it without tripping this year.  Next week we are off to visit my family again (for a month!) so a nice warm robe will be very important for those chilly Ontario mornings.
Lastly, I made her a Bimaa sweater with the leftover green stripe knit.  I've had this pattern for a while too, (I'm kind of an impulse pattern buyer!), but now that she's potty trained and therefore out of onesies it was time to use it.  I really like the shirt, (made the cowl version), the three neckline/hoodie options, and the pattern was well written with photos so it would be easy for a beginner to use as well.  The only thing I'll change for the next time is to attach the wrist ribbing after the arms are sewn up, so that the seams are tucked nicely inside.  (The pattern makes you attach the ribbing first and then sew up and down the arms and body.)  I was obsessed with lining up all the stripes - but I think it makes a huge difference in the finish of the garment - even if it is for a three year old.
I've also been sewing for myself, but haven't had hubs around to take some pics yet.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!
Linking up with Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts...

The WIP that wasn't

I found this really beautiful shawl pattern a few weeks ago - Texelle - and I couldn't stop myself from buying the pattern and immediately ordering the same yarn (Madelinetosh DK in calligraphy).  It was the week of my birthday, so it was completely justifiable as a little "self gift".  I've long admired things knit in this colorway, and it's just as beautiful in real life as it is on the internet.
Unfortunately I have to say the pattern could have benefited from more stitch counts.  They're mentioned at the beginning but quickly disappear, leaving non-expert shawl knitters with no way to check that they're doing things right!
To make things even more precarious, I took it upon myself to change the type of increase, as I don't really like the large holes that yarn-over increases make.  I knew it was risky, but I wanted to try.
After I took the above pictures, I realized that I had made a big mistake with the "spine" of the shawl.  I got so carried away garter stitching in the first part that I forgot to purl the back of the middle stitches so that it would be stockinette the whole way down the front.  (You know how good knitters talk about "mindless knitting".  Yeah, I really need to engage my mind when I knit.  I'm obviously not good enough to knit mindlessly yet!!)
Last night I undid that stitch all the way down to the bottom, (this lovely lady convinced me it was easy as pie), but this didn't help things look better.  The hard fact is, I just chose the wrong type of increase.  After some discussion with my expert knitter friend Nicole, (re: me pleading with her to tell me it wouldn't be noticeable once the shawl was completed and not to rip it all out!), I knew what I had to do.  I ripped the sucker out.
And so, the shawl you see above is no more.  But I will rebuild her, better than ever!  And with the smallest yo increases I can manage!!
Thanks for sharing my pain!
Linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday...

WIP Wednesday - Single Girl blocks

I'm not sure if this is a WIP or a finish, because although it's not a quilt top yet it sure feels like I've crossed a finish line!  I first wrote about this quilt last October, so it's almost taken me a year to get these blocks done.  After I finished a quilt about two weeks ago, I decided to get serious about piecing the blocks.  I counted and realized I only had half done - a measly 8 blocks!  So I set a goal of doing four quarter blocks a day - one full ring - and I did it!  Now I have all 16 rings done, all Anna Maria Horner and low volume fabrics.
This is going to be a nice, big queen size quilt for our bed.  There's no way I could give this one away after all the time I've spent on it.  Right now I'm trying to decide whether to use cotton or wool batting.  Do I want a summer quilt or a winter one?
I don't usually make quilts with so much negative space, so I hope I love it once it's done.  If Jolene's is anything to judge by, I definitely will!
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced Quilts...

Friday Finish - A Special Dowry Quilt for Mom

Now that I've delivered this quilt to my mother, I can finally show it to you all!  I absolutely love this quilt - it was a hard one to let go for sure.  I couldn't help but take a million pictures of it - besides loving this quilt, my parents' house is probably the best backdrop I've ever had for a photo shoot!
I used Anna Maria Horner's Dowry pattern, but used fabric from all of her collections since Field Study (the first one I ever bought).  I made the secondary design squares of hot and cold colours.  I used silk batting and a gorgeous dark blue minky dimple dot for the backing.  Canadian winters can be harsh, (especially the last couple of years - hello polar vortex!), and I wanted this baby to be really toasty.  It's x 60 x 70", so someone can either cover up from toes to chin, or spread it across a few laps and share it.
I absolutely love the Dowry pattern.  Since only half of the blocks are pieced, it comes together really quickly.  While I was piecing it I kept thinking "how come nobody's done a Dowry-along yet?"  It's such a great pattern - not very difficult skill-wise but the end result can be really stunning.  In fact, I've added a queen size one to my list of future quilts!
Thanks for coming and taking a look - have a great weekend!
Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts...

WIP Wednesday - A Future Boy's Nonsense Quilt

Hello all, I've been back from our holiday in Canada for four days and am already regretting getting on the plane!  The time flew by way too fast this year.
Even though it's only mid-August, with my summer vacation over this fall feeling has settled over me and got me looking to new projects.  Although I have many more Glitter blocks to go, and my Single Girl quilt has turned into a Single and Sitting by the Phone Waiting for Me to Call quilt, I just had to whip up a few test blocks for the Boy's Nonsense quilt I've had in my head for a while now.  (I don't feel quite as guilty if I call them "test blocks"!)  Although Leila's gorgeous quilt was my inspiration, I got my block template from this site, downloading the 12" block.
The second picture is the fabrics I've pulled for this project.  Looking at the picture I realized I'll probably need a few more dark coloured fabrics, as I'd like to do alternating lights/darks in the layout (as mentioned in Leila's tutorial).  When I change the fabrics picture to black and white, (Leila's trick), there are way too many medium value fabrics.  When I pulled them I had only thought about the colour palette, not light and dark.  I'll have to see what else I have in the stash.
Thanks for stopping by.
Linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday...

Post holiday stash update

Well, we're back from our holiday at home in Ontario.  I took full advantage of my trip across the ocean to add a bit of fabric to my stash.  First I made an order with my favourite Canadian online shop Mad About Patchwork.  I chose a few new Cotton + Steel fabrics, as many low volume fabrics as they had, and some Basic Grey grunge colours.  I also got two cuts of lovely, soft, minky dimple dot, which are going to be backings for two new couch quilts very soon.
We went down to the states for a few days with my parents, and my mom and I hit the Joann store in Buffalo.  We got half yards of all the Denyse Schmidt, Julianna Horner, and Lotta Jansdotter they had, and then split it once we got home.  I had no idea Lotta Jansdotter had a line for Joann, so it was a nice surprise.  (I also stocked up on Reese's pieces and Jolly Ranchers, but that's for a different kind of stash! :) )

WIP Wednesday - Glitter, glitter and more glitter

This is the current state of my sewing room.  Not too bad actually, tidier than usual.  I decided to put away almost everything else and concentrate on these highly-addictive glitter blocks.  My goal is 16 per week - one row in the twin size quilt.  An hour here, an hour there, work and family permitting.    At the very least I can have five minutes of fun choosing fabric!
Thanks for stopping by.
Linking up with Freshly Pieced Quilts...

Friday Finish - One Scrappy Placemat

I've been so wrapped up working on my Glitter blocks, I don't have much to report this week, but I did finally finish a placemat for Olivia that I made using the tiny slivers of fabric leftover from her flowering snowball quilt.  I've had this project hanging around taking up space for a few months, so when I cleaned my sewing room last week I decided to just finish the damn thing instead of putting it in the WIP drawer.  
I had weird curved little shapes left, about an inch at the widest point, so I decided to make some really skinny half rectangle squares.  I pay a lot for shipping and duty on all my fabric so I really try to use even the smallest of scraps.  Oh to live in the states again and have free shipping!... sigh.  (After making this I did throw the rest in the garbage - I'm thrifty not insane!)
Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!
Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts...

WIP Wednesday - Glitter quilt blocks

This week I've been working on my Glitter blocks, making piles of fabrics, cutting so much I'm getting a callus, (a.k.a. quilter's finger), and then slowly getting faster at sewing the blocks.  It's actually become super satisfying ironing my pretty Y seams - who knew I could do those?  Oh - and I finally figured out that I needed to press the seams of the main shape towards the background fabric!  It's a lot of trial and error when you don't have any quilters around you.
I finally bought some template plastic, (I cut an entire queen size Single Girl quilt with paper templates!), and invested in one of those rotating cutting mats.  Both have made cutting easier so it was money well spent.  While at work I photocopied the template, and enlarged it to 125%, so the unfinished blocks are 11.5" by 4.75".  Since this quilt is going to be a mixture of fabrics and colours, I'm approaching each block's colour scheme as if it were a stand-alone mini quilt.  It's a lot of fun choosing the combinations of three fabrics, and I think this could be key in keeping the momentum going till I reach 128 blocks!  I hesitate to call this "scrappy", because I am using fat quarters and yardage, and not true scraps.
This is going to be a very labour-intense quilt, for sure, but I also feel like when it's done it's going to be the most beautiful quilt I've ever made.  Jen Kingwell's book, Quilt Lovely, has really revolutionized how I think about my stash, and I've been breaking up previously intact fat quarter bundles all week.  I had kept at least 75% of my stash in the collection bundles (or curated bundles, or bundles I set aside for future quilts), but now I'm just throwing everything together and I'm going to reorganize 90% of it just by colour.  This is major for me - full collection fat quarter bundles were sacred!  I can definitely see more scrappy style projects in my future.
If you'd like to see more, you can follow me on instagram, and if you want to see some real eye candy, check out the #glitterquilt group!

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced Quilts...

Friday Finish - Far Far Away II Baby Quilt

I made this quilt back in March, and it was the quickest baby quilt I've ever made!  
In true Italian style, my friend told me her brother and his wife would be visiting with their new baby THE NIGHT BEFORE we saw them! Nothing like the last minute - I swear it's in their DNA!  The baby girl was almost six months old, so I'd been thinking about her quilt for a while, but I hadn't actually decided what to make.  I thought about not going, but then I decided to shift it into high gear and crank out a quilt for this long-awaited baby girl.  (Isn't she a little doll?)
So what could I make that would be fast yet still something special?  I knew the parents didn't want traditional pink.  Who could I turn to?  Heather Ross - don't fail me now!  I had a fat quarter bundle of Far, Far Away II that I purchased last summer, and I knew it would be perfect.  It had to be quick and easy, but I wanted the simple patchwork design to be balanced with some super special fabric.  I also added a few bees, frogs and strawberries from my Briar Rose stash.
For the backing I found some purple and white gingham that I had put aside for clothing for Olivia - it matched perfectly!  I quilted it in my go-to quick wavy lines.
I desperately wanted that thin yellow and white strip for the binding, but I only had a fat quarter of it!  Since the quilt is only 35" square, I did my calculations (twice) and realized I would have just enough to do it.  And it truly was, just enough - I had about a 3" long piece left when I was done! 
All in all, I made this quilt in six hours - three the night before and three the morning of the day we saw our friends.  The pictures we took outside that March morning were awful, with the terrible, harsh, end of winter light, so these are from my iPhone.  They are actually the progress pictures I sent to my mother!  (The third from the last photo is me bragging about my perfect corners! hee hee)
In the end, I was really happy with it, and so were our friends.  Who would have ever thought purple, orange and green would make such a sweet girl's quilt?  
Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts...

My New Love - Glitter by Jen Kingwell

Ladies, I've fallen in love.

A few weeks ago, Jen Kingwell's new book Quilt Lovely popped up on my radar.  I'm not a huge buyer of quilting books, mostly because there's so much information and inspiration out there in the blogosphere, and if a particular quilt takes my fancy, I'll just buy the individual pattern.

But, late one night, I was cruising Amazon, (as you do), and I saw the book again.  So I took a peek inside.  And that's when I saw it - Glitter - a quilt unlike anything I'd ever seen before.  I was transfixed.  My heart leapt... before I knew it I was clicking "buy now" and calculating the hours till the book would be in my hands.  I snapped a picture of Glitter with my phone to hold me over.

Three days later I had my baby in my arms.  I quickly flipped to the right page, my eyes skimming through the block instructions.  Suddenly, my blood went cold.  Oh no.  A knot formed in my stomach.  Y seams?  How could this be??  I'd been led to believe that we were a perfect match, that this quilt was The One.  And now it sprang Y seams on me??  It would never work.  Crushed, I put the book down and went to bed.

I thought about Glitter all day long the next day.  I looked at the picture on my phone.  I couldn't give up on us.  It was too damn good-looking.  It wasn't going to be easy, but some things are just "meant" to be.

I decided to bone up on Y seams and make a test block.  I watched a few videos about the traditional "sewing dot to dot" technique.  Then I found this little lady who proclaimed there was a better way.  I tried it, and it seems to work for me.  I'm just not quite sure of how to iron the seams on the back to avoid bulk (and the book doesn't mention these details).

The seams aren't perfect yet.  I'm going cut the four corner pieces more generously next time, and upsize the block a bit too.  It'll take some work, but hey, all relationships take work.  With a little patience, I think Glitter and I might end up happy together after all.

Will be linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced...

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