Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Finish: Modern Mystery Quilt

Over the years, I’ve acquired a lot of quilting fabric. My supply is nowhere near some of the fabric libraries I’ve seen, but it’s enough that some years ago I came up with a rule for myself:

At least half of the fabric for any quilt that I make must come from my stash.

Front of Pastel Modern Quilt Featuring Circles and Stacked Rectangles

Since I began working with this mindset, I automatically go to my supply of fabric at the early stages of every quilt. I no longer find “forgotten” fabrics because I see them all often enough that they don’t have a chance to be forgotten. And when I do buy fabric, it’s with a specific purpose in mind so I buy just what I need. OK, I still buy extra sometimes, but the random visits to my local quilt shop have stopped!

This rule also challenges me to open my mind to different color and print combinations. I am mindful that I paid just as much for the back of the fabric as I did for the front — if I want a color that’s a little different than what I have on hand, there’s no reason I can’t flip it over to use the “wrong” side. And, for that matter, the back of the quilt takes up just as much space as the front; it can do more than serve as a backdrop to show off the quilting.

The Quilt
A few weeks ago, I wrote about finishing a modern quilt top. It measures about 60 by 78 inches (152 x 198 cm) and all of the almost seven yards of fabric for the front came from my stash. Most of these pastel fabrics feature simple geometric prints. It’s difficult to see in the photos, but the white background fabric has shimmery pale gold stripes; I can’t resist a little sparkle and shine!

Detail of Subtle Shimmery Gold Stripes on Background Fabric of Modern Quilt

I had two orphan blocks that were made from some of the same fabrics that are in this quilt: my first attempt at a New York Beauty block and a pieced pumpkin. I incorporated them into the backing by setting each block into a row of similar colors. Then I worked with the largest leftovers from the front of the quilt, as well as some additional fabrics that didn’t make it onto the front, to create enough strips for the rest of the backing.

Back of Modern Quilt Featuring Two Orphan Blocks and Wide Strips of Fabric

The cotton batting was sewn together from large scraps, and I quilted evenly-spaced stripes with white thread on my home sewing machine. The smallest leftover pieces from the front were used to make a scrappy binding.

Front of Pastel Modern Quilt Featuring Circles and Stacked Rectangles

An entire quilt made from stashed fabric, and I still have plenty more where that came from. But it’s progress, and cozy progress at that!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Mirage

It’s been a while since I posted a knitting project. I really wanted to be able to share this project this week, and I made it just under the wire! My newest project is so freshly off the needles that the photos were taken last night at sunset before blocking it.

Front View of White Sleeveless Cotton Top Knit using the Mirage Pattern

In June, I wrote about a new knitting project that had me excited. The hitch in my excitement was that I was knitting with white yarn. I was so worried about staining the yarn that it took me six weeks to knit a straightforward stockinette sleeveless top!

So many of my usual knitting routines were disrupted. I wouldn't take it with me out of the house where any number of disasters could be lurking. I wouldn’t pick it up to knit a few rows while I was cooking in case I had missed cleaning some food off my hands or had a random splash on my clothes. And I wouldn’t knit it while my children were up and about because they like to touch the yarn. That didn’t leave me with a lot of knitting time.

All of those precautions were quite silly, of course, because if the yarn can’t survive the knitting it surely won’t survive the wearing.

Pattern Details
The pattern that I knit is Mirage by Shellie Anderson. It was published by Shibui Knits and features two of their yarns: Fern in 100% cotton for the main structure of the top, and Silk Cloud in 60% mohair and 40% silk for the detail at the bottom.

My measurements happen to fall squarely between the sizes for M and M/L. Based on the number of Ravelry reviews saying the pattern runs large, I opted to make the smaller size. The fit, which doesn't seem to have been changed by blocking, is perfect with no modifications.

Back View of White Sleeveless Cotton Top Knit using the Mirage Pattern

I really appreciated the details that went into the pattern, such as the sloped bind-off for nicely curved armholes and the steps for avoiding weak spots when binding off in the center of a row. I’m not sure the different cast-ons were necessary, but I enjoyed adding one more technique to my repertoire.

The pattern includes instructions for a sleeveless shell or short-sleeved tee, both with A-line shaping. I like that the top can be dressed up or down, and I can see this becoming a go-to pattern that would be easy to adapt for even more options.

This was my first time knitting with Shibui Knits yarns, by the way, and they’re lovely. (No affiliation.) Fern is possibly the softest cotton I’ve tried. The yarn is a little pricey for me, though, so it will remain a special occasion purchase.

And on that note, I’m ready to wear my new white sleeveless shell — as long as I don’t leave the house or encounter any food or other people!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Hexagon Project: Blocks 2–5

One of my goals for my blog this year is to work out a better system for sharing long-term projects. I don’t want to bore you with barely noticeable changes in a project that is progressing slowly. On the other hand, sharing only finished projects doesn’t show the work, time, and even setbacks that go into projects that span months or years; rather, it feeds into that misperception online that other people can do things more quickly or easily than we can. And that’s not a good feeling.

Four Overlapping EPP Hexagon Blocks

In May, I introduced that I was going to start what I’m calling The Hexagon Project. It’s my first attempt at English paper piecing, with a goal of using up scraps as I hand sew a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. Earlier this month, I shared the EPP book I'm using as a reference and my first hand sewn hexagon block.

I’m going to post my progress on The Hexagon Project about every month or so. I think having that timeline in mind will keep me motivated, and give me enough time to have an update that’s worth sharing.

Four Blocks in Four Weeks
As I mentioned above, my last update was four weeks ago. In that time, I’ve sewn four additional hexagon blocks.

Block 2 for my EPP Hexagon Quilt Project

I’ve already chosen the color combinations for quite a few blocks. They’re grouped and ready in my sewing bag, which makes it easy for me to move on to the next block wherever I happen to be.

Block 3 for my EPP Hexagon Quilt Project

Each hexagon piece needs to be basted onto a template, then the hexies can be sewn together into a block. I have yet to time how long each block takes, but it feels like I’m able to finish one in a relatively short period of time.

Block 4 for my EPP Hexagon Quilt Project

Although EPP involves a lot of small pieces and some sharp objects, I’ve been able to sew on the go. I find it particularly easy to baste a few blocks during short periods of down time, such as while sitting in a waiting room.

Block 5 for my EPP Hexagon Quilt Project

I didn’t go so far as to fussy cut most of the hexagons, but I’m mindful of their positioning within each block. I prefer to sew the hexies together at home, where I can lay them out beforehand and leave them undisturbed until they’re sewn in place.

Back of Hand Sewn EPP Hexagon Block with Templates

You may have noticed the shadow of a circle showing through the hexies on the outer ring of each block. Those pieces still have their templates in place, and what you’re seeing is the hole punched in the center of each template. In order to keep the seams consistent throughout the project, the template is supposed to be removed only after each side of the hexie has been sewn in place.

Four EPP Hexagon Blocks in an Overlapping Row

The hexagon blocks measure about 8 5/8 inches (22 cm) across their widest points. My total is now at five completed blocks. I don’t have a final quilt size in mind; I simply want to sew the hexagons that I’ve already cut.

I’ll have another update on The Hexagon Project for you in about four weeks. We’ll see if I maintain the same pace of a block each week!