Saturday, January 28, 2012

I CAN be Precise! Quilt Block of the Month: January

A little while ago I made a mini quilted table runner for Christmas. Even though I'm proud of it, it was basically a major fail. I didn't bother with pressing, or even measuring everything by the end. I don't really know what I was thinking. However, it taught me a very valuable lesson about precision. Maybe I can fudge some stuff when it comes to knitting, crochet, painting, or cooking, but if I was ever going to dive into quilting I was going to have to have the precision of a surgeon.

So basically I figured my commencement as a quilt maker would never happen. Or at least not at this juncture in my life. Who has time to be precise with a demanding toddler all over you, and another little one on the way? Not me.

But the quilt gods have been guiding me toward quilting ever so gradually over the past few years. A few things happened since I made the mini quilt that truly inspired me jump right in. First, I noticed that a quilting blogger I follow was going to start a quilt block of the month series for 2012. The quilt block for January was eye-catching, I loved the colors she chose, and her tutorial looked beautiful. Then a little later I saw another blogger I follow decided to participate in this quilt-a-long. He (yes, it's a he) made his own quilt block following the tutorial; I also loved his color choices. I was impressed with his block because he's new to quilting too, and I figured if he could do it, I probably could too. (Also, he's a dude! If a man can do it, I can do it too; I am woman, etc...and all that banter).

Then the final straw? I was out to tea (we're really not that gentrified but we did have a lovely little tea outing a few weeks ago) with the girls and P. brought up how she wanted to do a quilt block a month this year and was looking for patterns. I emailed her the link to the blog and didn't think much about it for a few days. But the seed had already been planted and it started growing, and growing....

I literally feel like I woke up one morning and was all, "That's it! I'm doing the Quilt Block a Month-along. Let me order my fabric." I notified P. who also decided to participate and then we asked K. to join us and she obliged.

I can't explain enough how great this project is for me:
  1.  I committed myself to measuring everything precisely--no eyeballing on this one.
  2.  having an entire month to complete 1 square is perfect for my lifestyle. A whole quilt would be overwhelming for me to contemplate, but one little quilt block is easy to accomplish and focus on.
  3.  Following a step by step tutorial takes all the guesswork and uncertainty away from me, a newbie.
  4.  It's exciting to anticipate what the next blocks will look like--she has not revealed them in advance. So the compulsive in me can't jump ahead. It forces me to practice patience and pace myself. This is such an important lesson for me--I'm always in a race.
I'll have to say a thank you to those quilt gods for directing me to this place. I'm really enjoying working with fabric and learning something new. It's so fun to have the girls on the same journey too (there's already been a handful of emails going back and forth about fabric lines, pressed seams, and selvage). And finally, the thought of having  a full quilt in a year's time is really amazing to me b/c it always seemed so out of my reach.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I promised my sister a "blizzard" of crochet snowflakes this year, but due to the ridiculous number of colds, etc. my family and I have been experiencing this little collection of flurries were all that I could muster.

This one is from here and wound up being the most successful.

This is from this pattern. I'm pretty sure my counting was off somewhere.

And this is from here. Again, I'm sure I miscounted somewhere.

I've obviously been in a craft slump because of lack of energy. Would you believe that we're sick again??? Little C. is overcoming an ear infection and I apparently have another cold (my 4th or 5th one? or just the same one over and over?)

It's pretty rare for me to get sick like this; being a teacher for a number of years strengthens your immune system. After that type of exposure to germs I went years in a row without having a single cold, but I'm pregnant this year and I guess my immune system can't keep up. I'm thrilled to be pregnant, but I'm not thrilled about being unable to take any cold meds!

Anyway, before I started to feel lousy again, I was starting to get into the craft game again. I'd been working on C's big boy blanket, knitting a sweater for the new baby, crocheting the Flowers in the Snow blanket, and even attempting my first real quilt block. Hopefully this cold doesn't knock me down for too long so I don't lose momentum.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gap-tastic Cowl

Here is the finished seed stitch project I talked about before Christmas. It's the enormously popular GAP-tastic Cowl pattern on Ravelry.

As of today over 4000 people on Ravelry have knit it and over 17000 have favorited it. I guess you can count me in that number now too.

Despite my dislike of making seed stitch, I do love the result. The texture is fantastic.

I'm not sure when this pattern first came out, but I know it was around last year b/c that's when I added it to my queue. I also noticed online that the Gap is selling this cowl again this year. So it must be a big seller for them. Here's the Gap version (they were selling black and cream this year):

I made mine with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in oatmeal (I think).

It was a labor of love for me, but definitely worth it. And I might even be persuaded to try it again next year if cowls are still stylish. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.
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