Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Catenary quilt: A finish!

I have several finishes to document in the coming days, so get ready! It seems like I don't have much time to document my works-in-progress right now, and before you know it, it's all finishes. Alas. We do what we can. Anyway, the finish for today is my long-awaited Catenary quilt!
I began this quilt back in September when I was lucky enough to get to take a workshop with Carolyn Friedlander. The workshop revolved around Carolyn's Catenary pattern and learning her technique for needle-turn applique, and as soon as I started, I was hooked. I'd never been a hand sewer before, but I liked the idea of hand sewing and its portability. Still, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the process, and while this quilt took me months to finish, I loved every minute of it.

The fabrics are almost all from Carolyn's past collections, including Doe, Architextures, and Botanics. That print with the potted plant you can see below was from Crimson Tate's Succulents line.
For the backing, I found this perfect brick print in my stash and then added a bright pop of orange to bring it to the size I needed. (Seems I've had that orange in my stash for a very long time.) I added fabric corners on the back because my hubby plans to use this as a wall hanging in his office (it coordinates nicely with his Austin House quilt). The final quilt (slightly modified from the pattern) measures 26" wide x 27" tall.
Part of the delay in finishing this one up was due to the fact that I couldn't decide how to quilt it. Since this was my first finished needle-turn applique quilt, I really liked the idea of doing some hand quilting, but that would have been another first for me, and I was having trouble committing. In the end, I went with randomly spaced vertical lines, which mimic the lines in the ledger print on the top row, and I'm very happy with the result. I didn't want the quilting to be too dense because I thought it would take away from the "puffiness" of the applique.
On the whole, I'm quite pleased with how it turned out and so glad to have discovered this new love for hand applique. I'm getting really close to finishing up my current applique project, the Ebb quilt pillows. With family in town this weekend, it might be just over the horizon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter (a few days late)! We had a lovely, sunny weekend full of two egg hunts, a visit with the Easter bunny, baking and decorating egg-shaped cookies, game night, and a delightful brunch with friends.
After B got off the Easter bunny's lap, he turned to me and said, "He's just a man in a costume." Ha! Not getting anything past this kid. It didn't seem to disturb his belief in the existence of the Easter bunny, but he was confident this one wasn't the real deal. Good thing that bunny had lots of candy.
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Two generations of grandmothers

We love our home in St. Louis, but we always struggle with being away from family. All of our family is a long day's drive or more away, so it's a special time when they're able to visit (or we're able to visit them). Last month, Matt's mom came for a visit, and we enjoyed a weekend of unseasonably warm weather (which she particularly appreciated, being from California).
We spent much of our time outside, including a lovely hike through one of the local woodland areas.
It was a wonderful weekend, as always, and it's so fun to see B forming real connections with his grandparents. Mine are coming for a visit next week, and he's so excited.
 Little adventurer
So serious
A few weeks ago, I made a solo trip to Atlanta to see my mother and grandmother, who's been ailing for some time now. This trip was bittersweet, as my grandmother was definitely weaker and having more visible trouble than I'd ever seen before (usually she "rallies" for visitors, so they see her best days, which was probably the case here, but her best day completely wore her out, and she spent the entirety of the next day in bed, mostly sleeping).
But that first day was lovely, and we spent a beautiful day out at the campsite that my aunt and uncle monitor. And the next day, I was able to visit with my cousin and her husband and little ones, which was wonderful. Grammie rallied some for my final morning, and I was glad to spend a little more quality time with her. It was also so good to see my mom and be able to help her a bit for the weekend.
If you're blessed enough to have family close by, I hope you're able to appreciate what you have. There's nothing like family, even when they sometimes drive you crazy. Hold them close.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Making it work

Back in February, I was the quilter for that month's do.Good Stitches block for the Emerge circle, and I asked my beemates for an original and a reversed version of the Scrap Plus block in blues and yellows (you can read about all the details and a tutorial for the reversed version in this post). My beemates responded enthusiastically and sent some lovely blocks, but when I went to put them all together, I just couldn't make it work. I tried a million layouts, but the colors weren't gelling, and the crosses/pluses were getting lost in the mix. (I wish I'd taken some pics of the failures so you could see just how bad they were. Bleh.) Finally, I decided the only option was to just split the quilt into two and make one quilt using the original block design and one quilt using the reversed block design.
I was okay with the looks of the separate quilts, though I wasn't terribly keen on having to make two quilts instead of one (my to do list is already out of control), but when I posted my idea on Instagram, I got one more suggestion I hadn't yet tried: a checkerboard. I had tried a checkerboard-like pattern (alternating the reverse blocks with the original blocks), but I'd been mixing the colors, which didn't work. But this suggestion made it click: I should try separating the colors and laying them out opposite one another.
Due to the number of blocks I had, a horizontal layout didn't work (without making more blocks, and I'd already made two extra at this point), so I switched it to vertical and reserved four blocks for use in the backing. I'm pretty happy with the result.
This weekend, I managed to piece the top and backing and baste it, and I plan to get started on the quilting tonight. It's great when someone else sees something you don't and opens your eyes to a new possibility, and the IG quilty community is so wonderful for that. Time to finish up!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sew the rainbow

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen a lot of rainbows lately. Maybe it's spring, maybe it's just been a while since I did a rainbow quilt, but either way, I just keep coming back to these. First up, I have plans to make a Cascade quilt (pattern by Initial K Studio) for an upcoming charity fundraiser. I love the simple graphic impact of this quilt design, but picking all 32 solids I needed was hard! So I posted this stack of solids from my stash on IG and asked for input on what I was missing.
And boy did I get some responses! Not surprisingly, there were too many teals (I know, but teal!), and it was missing some love in the bottom half (red to green). So when I headed to work the next day, I did my best to fill it out a bit and came out with one lovely rainbow stack (funny how the same stack looks so different when it's flipped on its head).
As soon I finish quilting last month's do.Good Stitches quilt, I'm moving straight on to this one.

Then, a few nights later, I couldn't resist taking a little break to work on a scheme for another rainbow quilt, this time using my beloved Rhoda Ruth and Pacific stashes. I've had this quilt on my mind for months (after seeing some great inspiration on IG, more on that later) and had to get it out of my head. I'm hoping it'll be next on the list after Cascade.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Just skating through life

I'm woefully behind on "personal" posts (sorry, grandparents!), and while I realize it's probably ridiculous at this point to try to go back to Christmas or B's birthday, I do want to cover a few happenings from the past few months. B's still very much in his stage of "firsts," and this year, that's included ice skating and roller skating for the first time.
Ice skating was less than successful. B was very excited about the idea, and we asked our good friend Chris to help us out because he's been skating all his life (Matt and I are total novices).
But things declined pretty fast once we got on the ice. It was fun for a bit, but B got really frustrated because he couldn't keep his feet under him and kept slipping (as one does). Eventually, it turned to us basically pulling him around the rink. He is only four, after all, so we'll see how next year goes.
Roller skating, which we tried for the first time this past weekend, was far more successful.
Of course, the rink isn't nearly as slippery, and you're dealing with skates that are much easier to balance on. The "walkers" they have for kids to use are also a lot more helpful because they have wheels that glide easily (as opposed to the ones we had for the ice, which basically just scraped along and were more of a hindrance than a help).
We went with some wonderful friends, and the kiddos had a blast. Cookies weren't a bad way to end the day either.
You can check out my mad rollerblading skills in the video below. Though he mostly skated on his own, I spent some of the time pushing B around like this when he told me he wanted to "go fast like Lightin' McQueen!" I'm ready to go back tomorrow, with or without B. ;)