The Nutcracker Mosaic Quilt Story

My mother and I adore decorating for the holidays, and we send each other new Christmas decorations most years, specially timed so that they arrive in the mail right about the day after Thanksgiving.  (Because it’s silly to give a Christmas decoration to someone to open ON Christmas–it just gets packed up the next day and you don’t get to use it for almost an entire year!)  My decoration theme is gingerbread men and woodsy greenery, and her decorating theme FOR YEARS has been snowmen.

But a few years ago she decided she was done with snowmen, and that she wanted to instead decorate with nutcrackers.

190e6f6925a9ba7931102d1122490416Last spring (think 2016) the fabulous “Nutcracker Christmas” fabric collection by Riley Blake came out, and the first time I saw it I thought, “Oh my goodness, that would be perfect for my mom!”  But money was tight, and it was softball season and I had no time to make anything anyway, so I told myself I’d revisit the idea at a later date.  Softball season came and went, and I kept catching glances of the collection and thinking every time that it really would be just perfect, but everything was working against me to buy the fabric.  But the pressure to make something with it kept hounding me.

Finally, one evening in July after having seen a whole bunch of mentions of the collection throughout the day, I had enough.  I was saying my evening prayers and I was so weighed down by thoughts of this fabric collection and really frustrated, so I decided to just be straight with God about my dilemma.  I told Him that I felt like He wanted me to make a nutcracker quilt for my mom for whatever reason, but that I just could not make the financial aspect of getting the fabric to work out, and if He really wanted me to make the quilt, then He needed to figure out how to get the fabric to me for free.  I was instantly washed over with a feeling of relief, and, thinking that the matter was settled and I was freed from the obligation, I crawled into bed, sighing with gratitude that I wouldn’t have to worry about the nutcracker quilt anymore.

The next day was quilt guild, and I set out for my meeting with a peaceful heart, settled into my seat on the front row, and chatted with my friends while waiting for the meeting to begin.  A member of my guild, Shannon, asked if she could make an announcement.  She walked up to the front of the room carrying a large basket and said that she had lots of scraps leftover from some quilts she’d made and that we could have anything we wanted that was in the basket.

Guess what was sitting on the very top of the pile?  Yep, a bundle of Nutcracker Christmas fabric.  I looked up at the ceiling and shook my head in humbled amazement.

il_340x270.1029714215_rds0Upon getting home, I measured the fabric in the bundle and I had roughly a fat eighth of every print in the collection, plus about a yard of all three colors of the border print.  That’s A LOT of fabric to get for free!

I decided to use the fabric with the “Mosaic” pattern found in Fat Quarter Style, and that I wanted to fussy cut the border fabric for the Christmas trees, gifts, and individual nutcrackers, using  the rest of the fabric to fill in the mosaic blocks.

20170901_0805432-2

I chose to use Kona “Snow” for the borders and sashing, and ordered some more of my favorite print for the back.

20170908_145400-2

Utah Valley Quilting did the quilting; it’s “Christmas Pano 2009 SD,” using a light mint/seafoam-colored thread.  I went into the shop thinking white thread, but Kerri, the shop owner, talked me into a little bit of color and I’m so glad I listened to her!  The quilting really pops on this quilt!

20171016_100339-3

Last, but not least, the binding is made up of leftovers of the diamond section of the border print fabrics.

20171113_161033-2

 

I apologize for the photos–in my haste to make sure that the quilt got to my mom on the day after Thanksgiving, I rushed it to the post office and forgot to do a photo shoot!  “Draped over chair in living room so I could show the binding to my best friend in a Google Hangouts photo” is all I have of it in its completed state.  At least there’s that, right?

image-20171120_134822-2

I love how this quilt turned out, down to its cute little quilt label!  My mom phoned me half an hour after opening the box, apologizing that it took so long to contact me because she’d “been staring at it for twenty minutes” before remembering to give me a call.  She’s extremely pleased with her gift, and even more so after I told her the backstory of how this quilt came into existence.  Perhaps she just needed a reminder that God loves her?  It was fun to let Him work through me.  This has been a Christmas gift for both my mother and myself.

Advertisements

Jolly Braid Tote Bag

carabrooke_merrygoround_jollybarbraid

I’ve been posting teasers on Instagram all week about a project I’ve been making for Fat Quarter Shop, and it’s finally time to show you the finished product!

Friends, meet the Jolly Braid Tote Bag, a super easy, very beginner-friendly bag made from Jolly Bar precuts.  I’d actually never made a structured bag before this, and I have no idea why I waited so long to get on the wagon!  SUPER easy, and totally satisfying to sew.

The pattern is available from Fat Quarter Shop.  You’ll need a Jolly Bar package, yardage of two other fabrics, some Annie’s Soft & Stable, one-inch polypro strapping for the handles, and a roll of “Fat Jelly Braid” Triangles on a Roll paper (seriously, I want to buy every available size of Triangles on a Roll because I love it so much).

I chose to make my bag from American Jane’s newest collection, “Merry Go Round,” and I’m really pleased with how cheerful it turned out.  When I first saw the dimensions of the pattern (12 x 11 x 5″), I thought it would make a great library book bag for my daughter, so I went with sunny prints to match her personality.

For my two prints, I went with Merry Go Round “Yellow Large Floral” (SKU# 21720-14) for my accent print, and “Red Mono Floral” (SKU# 21723-11) for my lining.

And, because I intended for the bag to hold heavy books, I added two inches to each end of the nylon strapping for the handles and tacked them down inside the construction of the bag so I wouldn’t run into ripped handles in the future. (I have ripped A LOT of handles out of A LOT of book bags…we nerdy girls always carry too many books in our bags!)

DSC03594-2My little Miss Junebug wanted to help with the photoshoot so much, so I let her!  There’s nothing like spending a beautiful autumn afternoon following your kid around the neighborhood as she proudly shows off her “new bag” to everyone she meets on the street!  (Don’t you just love it when a finished project makes the recipient enthusiastically happy?!?!)

DSC03541-2

DSC03571-2

DSC03599-2

carabrooke_merrygoround_jollybarbraid_2

Thank you so much, Fat Quarter Shop, for allowing me to sew along on this super cute bag!  It’s going to get a lot of use in our home!

Fat Quarter Shop also has a tutorial video to aid you in the construction of your own bag!

Disclaimer: In exchange for sewing up this project, Fat Quarter Shop provided me with the materials.
Link-ups:

Life’s Simple Pleasures

I was driving the Brookelets home from school the other day and noticed that a tree on the side of the street had a lot of its leaves twirling towards the ground, which prompted me to exclaim, “Oh!  Falling leaves!  One of life’s simple pleasures.”

Miss Junebug scrunched her nose at me and asked, “What does that mean, ‘life’s simple pleasures’?”  I explained that a simple pleasure was a rather ordinary occurrence that just made your heart happy, and generally didn’t cost any money, which made it all the more special because it reminds you that you don’t need to spend money to be happy.  My girl nodded and went back to reading her book.

What I thought was a quick little explanation of some random phrase has apparently been percolating in her mind because we were driving to the library today, and saw a maple tree whose leaves had all turned a brilliant scarlet, but hadn’t fallen off the tree.  Junebug saw it and said, “It’s too bad those leaves aren’t falling off the tree because then they could be a simple pleasure for Mom.”  I explained that, even though the leaves were still on the tree, it was still a simple pleasure for me because I liked how it looked.

She looked at me through narrowed eyes, “Does that mean that simple pleasures can happen even if you spend money on them?”

“What? How did you make that leap?” I asked.

“Well,” she said, “you spend a lot of time just looking at your quilts and the things you knit, and it makes you really happy.  But you spent money on them, so I thought it was a complicated pleasure.”

I laughed, “A complicated pleasure?  No, spending money doesn’t take away the simple pleasure of admiring a job well done.  I’m proud of myself for finishing a big project, and I’m pleased with the good job that I’ve done on that project, so it makes me happy to look at it a lot and just be pleased.  It’s fun to make stuff.”

“Really?” she said, “Because it doesn’t seem like you have a lot of fun when you’re making stuff.  You yell a lot, and you breathe angrily when you run out of thread.  And sometimes you burn yourself on the iron or cut yourself with the circle blade…”

I studied her face for a moment, then turned away to stare at the traffic on the road while I thought about her statement.  Then I nodded, glanced over at her and said, “You’re right…it’s complicated.”

 

Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin Hat #2

DSC03478-2

With the birth of my stepsister’s baby, I went into baby knitting mode.  One of the items I decided to include in the “Welcome Baby” package was one of my Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin hats, size “newborn.”  I wrote up this pattern four years ago when I wanted to make my nephew a cute autumn-themed hat.  I haven’t made another since, mostly due to the lack of babies being born into our family, but also because I got wrapped up learning to make quilts and I’ve been doing lots of baby quilts instead of baby knits–but after spending almost all of 2016 making baby quilts, I decided to take a break from those this year.  Voila, back to baby knitting.

 

I love this pattern so much because it’s got classic, basic cables that always look good, and the yarn is DK-weight, which I prefer for baby hats because it’s just a tad less bulky, but doesn’t sacrifice on warmth.

DSC03485-2

I went with two different colors this time with this Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin Hat, the lighter orange and darker green available in Rowan Felted Tweed.  I now have scraps from both hats that I think will knit up nicely in a striped pattern next time there’s another beebs making a debut into the fam.

If you’d like to make a Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin Hat yourself, the pattern is for sale on Ravelry.  I recently increased the price of the pattern, but you can get it for the original price of $2.50 until October 10th, 2017 with the promo code “babyknitting” (without the quotation marks).

DSC03479-2

Happy knitting!

 

My Very Late Start to the Sweetie Pie Quilt Sew Along

img_3890
Image courtesy of Riley Blake Designs

When I first saw the pattern for Lori Holt’s Sweetie Pie Quilt last year, I literally gasped aloud, which, when in the context of creativity, is a sign I’ve recognized to mean that I should seriously consider committing to the project, yarn, fabric, etc.  I’ve learned that ignoring that first impression gasp aloud usually leads to serious regret.

But I’m an imperfect being, and told myself, “NO.  You may not commit to making this quilt.  You have a million UFOs, it has applique fer cryin’ out loud, and just…NO.”

And then the sew along was announced.  Oh, I dearly love a sew along.  “NO!”

Then the templates became available, and oh my goodness, the cuteness…”NO!”

Then I saw the quilt in real life, and it’s even better in person…”NO!  No, no, no!”

The sew along started, and I looked forward to Lori’s blog posts each Monday to see which block they were working on that week, and oh my goodness, the cuteness…”NO!  It’s birthday season!  You’re knitting a sweater, sewing up birthday dolls, and you need to make a flapper dress for the school play!  STAHP IT.  NO.”

My oldest daughter, Emily, plays the harp, which winds up with broken strings far more often than you would think, and the closest place that sells harp strings is the music store we where we rent her harp, which is in Salt Lake City, about an hour to the north of us.  During her last lesson in January she snapped THREE strings.  (It was pretty funny to watch–pretty, pretty harp music…*twang!*  Teacher and student grumble, regroup.  Pretty, pretty harp music…*twang!*  Teacher and student emit frustrated growls, then  *twang!* for no reason, teacher and student just give up on life.)  The broken strings were often-played strings, which meant that a trip to the music store was imperative or Emily would backslide into not practicing, and darn it, I’ve had to hound her and nag her to get her to the point where she’s getting somewhat consistent with practicing.  Must. go. to. music. store. fast.

Anytime I have to run an errand up in SLC, I totally have to make a day of it because it’s the big city and I live in a small city that still has that small-town feeling to it, so the lure of all the shops and dining establishments that we don’t have in my town…duh, ya need to give ’em a visit!  I made my way up to the music store, purchased the harp strings, and still had four hours before I needed to start on my return trip home.  I decided to do a yarn and quilt shop crawl.

Amidst the shop hopping, I discovered a new-to-me shop, and…*blissful sigh.*  Lots of modern fabrics, a room dedicated to batiks and Kaffe Fassett, a room for Civil War-era fabrics, and upstairs, at the top of the stairs so it’s all you see as you ascend to another eagerly-anticipated realm of fabric, they had Lori Holt’s entire Sew Cherry 2 fabric collection and the Sweetie Pie templates.  I gasped aloud AGAIN, despite having seen all of those things for months and completely knowing they already existed.  My fingers lovingly traced over the edges of the templates through the plastic packaging, and I remembered my “gasping aloud” rule.  I picked up the templates, and placed them amongst the fat quarters in my arms before turning to investigate the contents of the rest of the room.  I made it halfway through that upstairs room before putting the templates back on the table where I’d found them.  “NO.”

I headed back downstairs, poked about a bit, and then noticed that I was approaching the time where I had to start returning home.  I got in line, which was pretty long, and settled into checking my phone for any new emails and the like, but couldn’t concentrate because there was a pair of women right in front of me who hadn’t mastered the art of quietly conversing in a public space, and they kept trying to draw me into their personal conversation, so I eventually just gave up and smiled politely and nodded my head while they talked at each other and kept turning to me for…I don’t know, some sort of contribution, despite that their conversation was about which classes they should take at the shop.  (“Um, I don’t even live here…”)

Anyway, the line finally dwindled down to the ladies in front of me, who were there to sign up for a class, but, despite having come to the shop to sign up for a particular class, they had managed to befuddle themselves while standing in line as to whether or not they truly wanted to take *that* particular class, or perhaps a different class?  The dialogue continued at the shop counter, with the shop clerk casting sympathetic glances over their shoulders at me while trying to walk them towards a decision.

Finally, they decided to go with their original class decision.  Lady #1 whipped out her checkbook, and wrote the check out to the wrong shop.  This was very funny to the two women, who paused to have a glorious chuckle at the mistake.

Lady #1 flipped to the next check in her checkbook, and the two of them spelled out the name of the shop, letter-by-letter, together while she wrote.  Having accomplished the very impressive task of writing out the correct name of the shop on her check, they paused for a little victory cheer and dance before she proceeded to write the wrong amount of money to be paid to the shop onto the check.  More laughter.  The shop clerk shot me a look of extreme pity.

Check #3 was produced, they spelled out the name of the store together, had another dance, and then spelled out the correct amount of money, number-by-number, and then erupted into yet another victory dance upon completion.  A couple of high-fives later, and Lady #1 went to rip the check from the checkbook…and ripped the thing in half.

ross1

Lady #2 straight-up exploded with hysterical laughter, and had to hold onto the counter to keep from collapsing to the floor.  Lady #1 wasn’t too far behind her friend, and the shop clerk looked at me with an “Oh my gosh, we are going to die here,” expression on her face.

Check #4.  Letter-by-letter, number-by-number, perforation-by-perforation.  A sloooow hand-over to the shop clerk.  EXPLOSION OF VICTORY DANCE, HIGH-FIVES, AND HUGGING WHILE JUMPING UP AND DOWN.  The shop clerk moved with superhuman speed to finish up the transaction, and, upon completion, turned to Lady #2…

…who pulled out a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of coins.

hqdefault
I decided that it was a great time to wander through the shop once more to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.  Namely, that it was a great time to go back upstairs and have a little debate with my conscience regarding the feasibility of making my own Sweetie Pie quilt, because God was OBVIOUSLY STALLING my exit.

I declare no coincidences in this experience–the moment I picked up the templates, some five or so minutes (or was it years?) later, with the intention to purchase them, Lady #2 let out a whoop downstairs, like my own cosmic cheering section.  I looked at the templates in my hand, heard the cha-ching of the cash register, and nodded.

The women were exiting the shop when I reached the main floor, the store clerk made eye contact with me from across the shop, and upon the closing of the door, stage whispered, “I am SO SORRY.”

So, four miswritten checks and a bag of coins later, I walked out of the shop, templates and fat quarters in bag, and a couple of pieces of candy from the store clerk’s under-the-counter stash tucked in with them.  Traffic was unusually light coming home, and I arrived at my kids’ school to pick them up with five minutes to spare.  Making this quilt is obviously an important part of my life story–I mean, HELLO, the stall of the century, cosmic cheering, and free candy…so I’ve given myself over to the will of the universe.

3585661232938152247-account_id1

Finished: The Amethyst Fair Isle Sweater

It’s been finished for a couple of weeks, but it’s also birthday season here in Brooketopia, so I’ve just been too busy for blogging while finishing up birthday presents and the inevitable Valentine’s Day stuff that moms of school-aged kids deal with.

But, yes, the big purple sweater is complete, she loves it, and I thought I’d share some more photos of it outside of Instagram.

I loved sketching out the fair isle designs, my cat got in the way constantly, and the long expanse of purple body knitting was something I really enjoyed–so mindless and soothing.

But the best part, ALWAYS, of knitting fair isle anythings is the actual fair isle knitting.  People, I had a fabulous January, even in spite of a really mean chest cold that I caught from my kids.  Who cares if you’re sick and can barely breathe when you can just weather it out in bed watching Netflix and knitting away on a big, beautiful bunch of colors?!?!  Best bout of sickness EVAH.

201701231058252172

20170125170990139

I had the goal of finishing it up before my girl’s birthday at the beginning of February, and I’m pleased to say that it was blocked by her birthday, but still needed its underarm seams and end-weaving, so not completely finished, but definitely finished enough!

I got those last bits out of the way over the next few days, and she was able to wear it to church the following Sunday.

20170205-1629046211

Yes, I’m monstrously pleased with how it turned out.  I did a little bit of shaping in the waist, and the fit was just so good!  Pre-blocking, the neck was really wonky and caused me a great deal of worry, so I blocked it rather aggressively and the photo shows that it turned out just fine.

I haven’t done a whole lot of knitting in the past few years, so this was a bit of a crazy undertaking, but I’m so glad I went through with it–it’s very beautiful, and I got a bit of a “Heck yeah, I can still do this!” ego boost from it, ha ha.

I don’t really see any knitting in my immediate crafty future, but I’m sure the bug will bite again come autumn and its chilly air.  I heart fair isle knitting so much!

My New Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

I made no resolutions this year because I knew that, by mid-February or so, I’d be looking for justifications to abandon them.  Instead, I decided to stew on the things I would normally make resolutions about, and hope that feasible solutions would present themselves to me.  Lo and behold, whilst scrutinizing my bulging scrap bins and the big ol’ bin o’ UFOs a few days ago, a plan magically unfolded in my mind:

20170211_164545

How freakishly simple is that?!  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I always start out my year with the resolution to finish as many UFOs as possible, but then new patterns, yarns, and fabrics start popping onto my radar, and it’s just such a teeth-clenching battle to not chase after the new bright and shinies.  And that sums up my entire creative year.

Now, instead of white-knuckling it as much as possible, I’ll plan for finishing up a few UFOs each year, a few “new-to-me” projects, and a few scrap bin-based projects.  No guilt required.

AND…if it’s time for me to work on a UFO, and I pull out a UFO and decide to just donate it instead, IT COUNTS.  The goal is to whittle down the UFO pile and close those open loops, and that happens even if I donate a half-finished project to Goodwill.

I am super excited to give the plan a try!

What are your methods for finishing UFOs and managing scraps?

 

Rachel Wishes She Had a Crafty Mother

I was in my craft room, trying to locate a pattern that I know I purchased this week, when my youngest daughter, Rachel, bounced into the room.  This was not ideal, as I was planning to commence sewing her birthday present once I found the missing pattern.

She’s a bit of a flit-on-by kind of girl, so I assumed she’d blast me with a bit of hurried chatter before continuing on her way to some other unsuspecting member of the family, but, of course, no.  She stopped next to me and watched me for a few seconds, then said, “I want to use the sewing machine.”

I looked over her, raised an eyebrow, and said, “Oh, really?  What for?”

She giggled, “To sew a quilt!”

“Oh,” I said, “what kind of quilt?”

She shrugged, “My usual, you know…the one I always make.”

“Why don’t you make a different one?”

“Because that’s the only one I know how to make…”

“Hmmm,” I said, “wouldn’t it be nice if you had a mother who could, like, I don’t know, TEACH YOU how to make other kinds of quilts?”

“Yeah, it really would,” she said, “I really wish…WAIT! I DO HAVE A MOM THAT CAN TEACH ME HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENT QUILT!”

And that, my friends, was how I came to start another quilt instead of working on my kid’s birthday present.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is some massive pattern perusal happening that I need to get back to…

A Snowstorm Can’t Even Halt This Sweater’s Progress

During my post-surgery bedrest in November and December, I found myself with no project to work on, so I whipped up a couple of Fair Isle hats for two of my kids as last-minute Christmas presents, but that only took three days and then I was once again project-less.  After a little stash-diving, I came across a sweater’s worth of purple yarn that spoke to me.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of done with purple.  I really, really loved it for a long time–my wedding colors were periwinkle and amethyst, I almost named my first daughter Amethyst because that’s her birthstone and I thought I could call her “Amy” for short, and I’ve painted my great room a beautiful shade of periwinkle.  But about six months ago, I just started to dislike the color.

So, we’re scheduled to re-paint the great room this summer, and I needed a way to use up that sweater’s worth of purple yarn in such a way that would result in me NOT wearing it.  I asked my oldest daughter if she wanted me to knit her a purple sweater, and she enthusiastically accepted the offer.

So I’m knitting her a purple colorwork-yoked sweater, which is also a little nod to our Icelandic heritage.  The timing has been spectacular; I’ve had some bad back days, and I have now caught the cold that kept my son home from school this entire last week.  I am flying through the knitting because I’m stuck in bed with nothing to do and the cold medicine makes my brain all fuzzy, so planning, letter-writing, managing finances, and the like are out.  Knit, knit, knit.

I finally got through all the mindless purple knitting and started on THE BEST PART: the colorwork yoke.  I originally got into knitting for the Fair Isle sweaters–colorwork is my FAVORITE thing about knitting.  Mmmm, colorwork.  Love, love, love it.

201701211957782402Row #3 of my colorwork chart introduced green.  I started knitting with a green yarn from my stash, and wasn’t really loving it, but hey, stash-busting!  I kept knitting.

Row #4…I’m not sure if this green is a good idea.  Nah, it’ll be fine.

Middle of Row #4…you know, I’m starting to actively dislike this green.

3/4 of Row #4:  No.  I am not putting all of this effort into a HANDKNIT sweater only to regret the color of yarn I used because I was trying to “make do.”  This is 2017, I don’t live in a little house on the prairie, I don’t knit with yarn I made from my own sheep flock, I am allowed to JUST ORDER THE COLOR OF YARN THAT I WANT TO USE.

What I was using was a forest green yarn from my stash, but when I colored my colorwork charts, I didn’t have a forest green-colored pencil crayon, so I used an emerald-colored pencil crayon…and man, did I like my colorwork chart with the emerald-colored squares.

chart-a

Also, the forest green yarn just simply lacked contrast with the purple yarn it was paired with, which does make for a good colorwork design.  So I ordered some emerald-colored yarn.  (Well, I ordered two skeins of different emerald-colored yarns…just to be sure I had what I wanted.)

And three days later I still had not received a shipping confirmation email.  The sweater sits in its little IKEA rolling cart next to my bed, staring at me in its incomplete state while I resign myself to yet another day of mindless NetFlix viewing without the bonus of being productive because I can’t knit on the sweater because I don’t have the right green yarn.  Yes, I’m recuperating, but it feels like a completely waste of precious time that you get so much of before you die.  (For those of you who are new around here, I HATE, yes, hate, wasting time.  I don’t “do nothing,” even if I’m sick or injured.  It just feels…wrong.  Hence my love of handwork…even if you’re sick or injured you can be productive.  And also reading, reading is good, but only if you’re not taking cold medicine that makes you all fuzzy in the brain.)

I force myself to get out of bed once an hour and walk around the house so I can hopefully avoid back spasms from too much laying in bed while I’m sick.  I talk to my family, take medicine, get a drink of water…you know, break up the monotony a little bit.

Apparently I’ve been worrying out loud whilst strolling about my home; worrying out loud about my green yarn not being right, and then worrying out loud that my “right” green yarn hasn’t shipped.  I vaguely realize that this is a not a big problem in comparison to keeping our home running while I’m once again stuck in bed, but it’s on my mind and the cold medicine lowers my inhibitions, so I ramble about the things that flit around in my brain.

My husband got a phone call from work this Saturday morning–the facilities manager needed to use the snow plow to deal with the snowstorm that rolled in this morning (a SNOWSTORM, people!  PERFECT knitting weather!), but the keys to the snowplow were in a different building across town, and no one had keys to get into that building except my husband.  So he set out to solve the problem.

An hour later he phoned, presumably to let me know that he was coming home (I’m an anxious soul that likes to know where my people are and what they’re doing), but instead of telling me he was heading home, he asked if I needed him to run any errands while he was already in town.  I said that I didn’t need anything, and to drive safe because the roads were pretty bad with the ongoing snowfall.

“You sure about that?” he said, “Because I’m already in town, and the yarn shop is nearby…”

201701212132162598

My husband is a sexy, sexy man who voluntarily does yarn runs for me in a snowstorm.  Mmm.

And now for undoing two rows of three hundred stitches and starting over with the right green…

…and I’ll need to figure out what to do with those two skeins of emerald-colored yarn that will be making their way to me shortly.  Thoughts?

 

Best of 2016, and Planning for 2017

I love reading everyone’s “wrapping up the year” and “plans for the next year” posts so much!  The online creative community is so interesting in that a lot of us are pretty transparent about what we do, which I really appreciate because online creativity *can* become an overly-staged, whirlwind-finishing sort of thing very easily…but then there’s those souls who refuse to get caught up in it all and just stay real, and I love reading their blogs.

Best of 2016

Trying to nail down my “best” projects of 2016 is really hard because almost every single one was a gift I made to be given away, and I don’t want anyone to think that I hated making the gift I gave them because it didn’t show up in this list…NO.  If I didn’t want to make a gift for you, I didn’t make you a gift, end of story.  I actually had four more gifts scheduled to make this year, but I quit one about 2/3 of the way through because I hated it so much, and with another one I just wasn’t feeling it, and will probably finish it up in 2017, and with the other two I just didn’t have time once all the crazy post-op stuff went down.

Oooh!  Categories!  Let’s see, five categories to round out the year:

Prettiest:  The baby quilt that my daughter and I made for her teacher who had a baby girl in May.  I loved working with Vintage Picnic, and the design of the quilt was just perfect.  For some weird reason, this quilt was blogged on our family blog, so if you want to see more pictures of it, you’ll have to head over there.

SONY DSC

Most Fun to Make:  The Dr. Seuss baby quilt.  It was a last-minute decision, so I picked a pattern that was on the wonky side and wouldn’t need perfect seams and the like, and I just had fun slapping it all together.  The fabrics were super fun and bright, and I really enjoyed the process of just making and not getting bogged down in the minutiae of perfection. I’ll have to remember to throw a wonky/improv project into the mix every now and then when I’m starting to feel a little stale.

SONY DSC

Biggest Skill Stretcher:  The Beehive Swarm swap blocks.  There was a lot of foundation paper piecing, which I tend to shy away from because I don’t like it, but there’s nothing like it for perfect piecing.  I still don’t like it, but I’m better at it now, and can grudgingly admit its superiority for certain qualities.  I also tackled curved seams for the first time with August’s block, and they are not as difficult as I psyched myself out to believe!

picmonkey-collage

Most Popular:  Within the walls of our home, it’s the Layers of Charm Flower Sugar Quilt.  It sits proudly on the back of a couch in our living room and it gets used pretty much every day.  The kids fight over it, and I’m always finding it snuck into one of their beds.

SONY DSC

Outside of our home, the Art Gallery Fabrics Blithe pillows have been the most popular, garnering 25% of the blog’s web traffic this year, and also being the only project about which I’ve received comments from my friends and neighbors when I’m out in the real world.  Pink and mint are hot, people.

SONY DSC

Project of the Year:  Not really a project, but 2016 was “The Year of All the Baby Quilts.”  There were a lot of baby quilts this year.  All good things, but man, I’m going to take a break for a while.  If you’re expecting, do not expect a quilt from me in 2017.  I’m just done for a little while.

Planning for 2017

First and foremost, my health.  If all I accomplish in 2017 is to raise my health to an enjoyable level, that will be enough for me.  It’s been three years of pain, almost two years since my back surgery, and I am simply to the point where nothing else really matters to me other than feeling good again.  Luckily, we found another source of some of the pain I was experiencing, hence the surgery in November, so I think I’ll be able to move along the path to better health a little easier, and hopefully a little faster.

When I woke up from my most recent surgery, I had no back pain, which we were hoping would be one of the side effects of that particular surgery.  Upon being cleared to do normal things again after six weeks of lying around with very little to no back pain, I ambled on down to the ol’ Craft Dungeon, and did a little sewing.  I felt some familiar discomfort in my back, decided that was enough sewing for the day, and stopped.  Unfortunately, the discomfort increased steadily throughout the evening until I was forced to give up, take some serious pain meds, and just go lay in bed.  I think using my sewing machine is needlessly adding to my back pain!  It’s happened a few more times, so I’m pretty sure I’m correct, which makes me incredibly hesitant to sew at all anymore.

It’s my hope that after a few months of consistent strength training (read: if I can manage not to injure myself for that long), that my back will be strong enough to handle sitting at the sewing machine.  Until then, I’m making a goal to just not worry about the crafty side of life, and to give it a go when I think I’ve gained some strength.  If I’m not strong enough at that point, then I’ll wait a few weeks and try again, rinse and repeat.

Of course, there are some projects that I would love to start, finish, adore…but I’m going to be patient, and when the time is right, I’ll resume my place in the Craft Dungeon.  A few months isn’t going to hurt anything.