Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Between the Lines

I make very simple quilts. Sometimes, a simple pattern highlights the beauty of the fabric better. I enjoy arranging fabric and playing with color. Well, I've had this Jelly Roll in my fabric stash for a long time and I wanted to find a pattern that would make good use of a Jelly Roll. I found  the Between the Lines pattern at the Fat Quarter Shop which happens to be my favorite online source for fabric. As you can see from the pattern image below, I'm not quite done with the topper yet, but precut fabric definitely speeds up the process of assembling a topper. I cut all the strips last week and sewed the long strips together in a day. Although, clearly, I'm far from the final stages of this quilt. Sewing can be so satisfying even if the quilt is simple. It still requires work and creativity.

The Snowman

Sammy had to make a snow creature for school. He wanted a traditional snowman. So, Luke, Sam, and I spent a few hours one night creating this snowman. I got all excited and my creative juices started flowing. I envisioned  a tartan kilt for "our" snowman and ice skates, but Sammy restrained me a bit. We had so much fun with all our felt, pipe cleaners, and glitter glue! This whole experience made me want to do more crafts like this with the kids. I want my kids to learn that deep joy can come with unleashing our creativity. I could feel my brain churning with ideas and I knew that something good was happening.  I guess I should go and make my own snowman!

Yarn Along: hats

I like to knit hats and I knit a lot of them! The thing about hats is that they're small enough projects to tote anywhere. When I don't feel like hauling my entire knitting bag, I can easily put a hat project in my purse. There's an endless variety of hats and I can learn lots of new skills knitting hats. So, right now, I'm knitting two different hats. The hat on the left is the Snowtracks Cap and it's got a lot of fun cables. I really enjoy cables and this one is challenging in that there are several different cables twisting in every direction.  I can't really work on this hat mindlessly though. It requires lots of concentration and well, that's why I'm not much past the ribbing section. I'm also working on a Fair Isle hat using two different yarns. The main color is the navy blue and the coordinating color is a variegated color. This hat is extremely simple, but looks more challenging than it really is.

As for reading, I just finished Between Shades of Gray and it was a fast-paced gripping novel about Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic region during WWII. With so much emphasis on Hitler's atrocities, I didn't even know that similar events occurred under Stalin. Lina and her family are deported from their home in Lithuania to a labor camp and ultimately end up in Siberia above the Arctic Circle. It's  a fascinating read!

I received Seeing Trees for Christmas and it has some fantastic photography of trees. The detail is excellent. The book challenges to really look at trees and see their amazing complexity.  Luke and I just finished The Westing Game last night and it was a very clever mystery! Now, we're chatting about what we're going to read next. I'm thinking about The Fellowship of the Ring. I wonder if this will be a godd read-aloud. We've made no decisions yet.

It's always fun to talk about books and yarn and I'm so happy to contribute to the weekly Yarn Along!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It just needed a button!

I finished this Chloe shrug last April, but it lingered in my knitting bag awaiting a simple button. Really, a simple button! Well, of course, it doesn't fit as well as it did last Spring. I'm glad I knit it much longer than the pattern specified, but Tess still won't get to wear it very long. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to get this project out of my bag if only to make more room for more of my unfinished projects. I still have a ways to go on my tendency toward procrastination!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yarn Along: Knitting in the new year

It's a new year and it's time for a new Yarn Along post! I haven't posted for Ginny's weekly Yarn Along in several weeks, but it hasn't been because I haven't been knitting. On the contrary, I've actually been knitting a ton. I've been working on this hat for a  few weeks, but it takes my full concentration so I've put it down a lot in favor of some mindless knitting. This hat is for my friend Trista who sweetly altered my pea coat and I offered her a hat in return.

I'm currently reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. I love cook books, food memoirs and books about food in general. I find this one fascinating as she recounts teaching nine fearful novices how to cook with confidence. The important lesson is that she teaches them to rely on themselves instead of prepackaged convenience food.  I was also given Jesus Calling as a Christmas gift and it's short daily devotional reading for every day of the year. So far, I find this tranquil reading and calming-perfect for my new year's resolution of seeking calm and gentleness.

That's it for this week. Don't forget to head on over to Ginny's for more yarn tales!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Wildlife quilt

Luke and I had been collecting wildlife-themed fabrics for the last year for his new quilt. A couple of months ago, I decided that we had enough fabric and I started cutting all the squares and rectangles. I gave him the pieces and he arranged all the fabric himself.  I then sewed the rows together and just as I was thinking that it didn't take too long, I managed to sew one row backwards and upside down. I had to get out the seam ripper. That's where I lost my momentum and the quilt topper lay across my sewing table for a few more weeks until I strengthened my will to rip out that row. 

Today, I finally finished it. Okay, I still have to cut the fabric for the binding, cut the fabric for the backing, sew the binding, and buy batting. Then, there's the actual quilting. I will be sending this out to a very talented quilter.

Okay, so I'm nowhere near done on Luke's Wildlife quilt, but it always feels like a major accomplishment to finish the topper.

I'm hoping to have this one finished by the end of January so Luke can snuggle under a warm blanket the rest of  this Winter.

Happy New Year! Here's to a new year of quilting projects!