2021 Project Round-up

Because it’s fun to see everything in ONE BIG POST!

January: Was busy with the kids returning to in-person hybrid school. Which meant I sewed up A LOT of face masks.

We had a power outage, and during that time I crocheted some little hearts to go on my Christmas tree, which I decided to keep up through February as a Valentine’s Tree because it is so freaking’ dark here in January and February that I’ve decided to keep up all the white Christmas lights for the extra light.

I also started knitting a sweater for myself at the end of the month.

February: I finished up a Kindness KAL shawl for Em, and I got through both sleeves of my sweater. I also sewed up a few more face masks.

March: I finally finished my Echo Flowers Shawl!

Denise and I decided to do a “Bestie Sewing Challenge,” where we both bought yardage of the same fabric and made stuff from it, just because we were bored out of our skulls with the dragging on of the pandemic and needed something to be excited about. I made myself a skirt from McCall’s 1369.

I picked the Peacock Feathers Stole back up and started working a few rows a day.

We also finally did some Pysanky, which was the real creative highlight of the month for my kids.

April: I made a pencil skirt for Em (McCall’s 5523) out of the leftover Bestie Challenge fabric, and I started working on my McCall’s 6696 (M6696) Birthday Dress for myself. Worked some more rows of the Peacock Feathers Stole.

May: I finished my Lavender Birthday Dress. There wasn’t a lot of crafting going on because I was super busy in the garden, and M6696 is a surprisingly hand-stitching heavy garment. Kept chugging away on the Peacock Feathers Stole.

June: I made a big, swirly skirt for Rachel because she was suddenly obsessed with big, swirly skirts. I also started working on my Violet Chambray M6696. Very busy in the garden, and we started doing a lot of cooking from scratch, which took up a lot of our time. I also kept putting in time on the Peacock Feathers Stole.

July: So much gardening. So much cooking zucchini. I embroidered the lavender wreath wall hanging and started on the “Un Alfabeto a Fiori” wreath. I started stitching an EPP couch cushion, which still isn’t complete because I don’t know how I want to do the borders. I also started working on the Mini Charm Chiffon Baby Quilt for Fat Quarter Shop. FINISHED the Peacock Feathers Stole!

August: I got a parasite after forgetting to wash my hands after cleaning bird feeders, and spent most of August being excruciatingly ill. My foot was also a big, painful mess and it was decided we’d do surgery on it in September.

September: Finished up the Mini Charm Chiffon Baby Quilt top and my corded petticoat right before my surgery. Spent the rest of the month working on the Un Alfabeto a Fiori wreath embroidery.

October: Finished embroidering the wreath, started embroidering my historical pocket. Started work on my flounced petticoat. Also appliqued pumpkins to a purchased black circle skirt for Renaissance’s “1950s Witch” Halloween costume.

November: Cheered by the excellent healing progress in my foot, I kind of went nuts with the idea that I’d do some epic Christmas crafting prep. I finished Nathaniel’s Fresh Cut Pines quilt and Em’s Yuletide Botanica Orange Peel quilt. I also finished Rachel’s Ombre Heart Mitts. I started quilting the Hipster Christmas Trees quilt.

December: The Great December Sickness hit and took. me. out. I did, however, squeak through with finishing the Hipster Christmas Tree quilt. All other projects saw virtually no time put in on them, but I did do some really great thinking about crafty organization and the like, and came up with an excellent game plan for 2022, which I will share with you tomorrow!

Are you one of those people who just always thinks they aren’t doing enough? I am. That’s why I do these round-up posts and crafty goals things–they make me aware of how much I do actually do, which makes that Perfectionistic Taskmaster Voice in my head quiet down a bit and give me a little peace. It was a busy year; it had a lot of weirdness going on with the pandemic and trying for some semblance of normalcy, and I had a lot going on with injuries and illnesses, but still managed to get a decent amount of projects finished. I like that.

And yes, I have way too much planned for 2022. ‘Cuz that’s how I roll….

Thanks for cheering me on this year, I’ve appreciated it very much. Hopefully you’re all sitting back and thinking through your own 2021s and realizing that you did good, too. And hopefully you’ve got some exciting plans for 2022. Because we have all definitely earned some of that. Good job making it through 2021, y’all. Here’s to a better 2022…


3 Ideas for More Organized Quilting in the New Year

I have a nifty little project rotation schedule in my mind that I try to use to work through old projects and not let the scrap bins get out of hand, and it’s just not working. I sat down to figure out what was going wrong, and just decided that I needed to make it work alongside what I want to do, instead of it being the main operating system of my craft room. As I’m sure you’re aware, every new year and month brings up new potential projects that you need to decide if you’re going to pursue or not. New babies, weddings, graduations, a crazy pattern that comes out that NEEDS to be made ASAP because it’s amazing, a new dress because of fifty thousand reasons…there’s just a lot that you can’t plan for, and it wreaks havoc on a system designed to corral the creative madness.

So…Idea #1: Each month will have its “must makes” that I will work on until they’re done, and then the remainder of the month will revert back to my UFO/Project Rotation schedule and I’ll make headway on the projects collecting cobwebs until the month ends. It’s simple, far too simple, but until I wrote it out I couldn’t see it as my solution.

I came up with this idea in October and finetuned and planned it out, but it felt like something was missing, and I finally realized what it was whilst lounging in my bed during the Great December Sickness of 2021–I’m not making enough scrap quilts. At all. The scrap bins no longer close, and I don’t have time for scrap quilts even though I won’t be able to use my craft room by the end of the year if they keep multiplying like they have been, completely unchecked. And then I randomly remembered that I came up with a weird little system for THIS EXACT PROBLEM back in 2019: Scrappy Thursdays.

Scrappy Thursdays were devoted to working on scrap projects and block of the months. It didn’t matter what I was working on outside of Scrappy Thursdays, I’d set it aside and work mostly from the scrap bins for that one day every week. I have four separate storage bins that held the fabric and patterns for four separate projects, and each week had its Project #1, #2, #3, or #4. It was still in experiment form when it dissolved out of my life, but it was a rather successful experiment while it was in progress! I just got really busy with the Blank Quilting ambassador thing and had no extra time for play, which was fine because I was having a lot of fun with all the yummy Blank fabric. Ah, memories…

Idea #2: I’m going to reinstate Scrappy Thursdays in 2021. I’m really looking forward to it. My chaos-loving brain really enjoys the break from my serious “get ‘er done” projects that I work on for the majority of the week, and my “obsessed with productivity” brain loves that I’m making progress on so many different things.

Beautiful Mammoth Flannels being cut for one of next year’s Christmas quilts!

I had another good idea during the Great December Sickness of 2021, which is my Idea #3: Use my leaders and enders for greater Christmas productivity. As in, cut the fabric for the Christmas quilts I want to make for Christmas next year NOW, and use them as my leaders and enders throughout the next year. When it comes time to work on said Christmas quilts at a later date, I’ll already have a ton of the piecing done. I’ve even set up an annual reminder that the week after Christmas is for cutting next year’s leaders and enders!

I’ve got the fabric for two of next year’s Christmas quilts prewashed and in the process of being cut. I have at least one more, if not two more, Christmas quilts I want to make this upcoming year, but no idea what pattern and/or fabric I’m going to use just yet, so obviously can’t precut anything for those quilts.

I’m excited for this extra bit of organization to help things run smoothly in the craft room! Do you have any good tips or tricks for quilty organization? I’d love to hear them! Happy New Year!

Rainbow Ombre Heart Mitts

I made these for Rachel for Christmas. They were the first gift she opened on Christmas morning and she wore them immediately and left them on until she received a gift from Renaissance that had velcro on it, at which point she took off her new mitts so the velcro wouldn’t catch on the yarn. She was incredibly pleased with the mitts.

I bought the yarn for these almost three years ago at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. (Hmm, I’ll need to go look at scheduling time to go to it again this year–although it’s now operating under a different name: Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat.) Rachel and I went to the festival together and she was entranced by the smorgasbord of yarny goodness at the market, so of course, I had to buy some rainbow yarns that she fell in love with. One of the rainbow yarn purchases was this mini skein set from Canon Hand Dyes, and there’s enough leftover to one day make the matching hat.


Pattern: My Rainbow Heart, by Stephanie Lotven

Size: Medium

Yarn: Canon Hand Dyes Charles Merino Fingering, Bright Fierce Color (link only takes you to their mini skeins page)

Needles: US 1 & US 3 (2.25 mm & 3.25mm)

Modifications: None

Not gonna lie, kind of wished I’d kept these bad boys for myself. They’re such happy mitts!

Click here to see this project’s Ravelry page.

Finished: Peacock Feathers Stole

The first time I blogged about the Peacock Feathers Stole was September 9, 2009. Twelve years ago. That’s how long this project has been taking up real estate on my internal “works-in-progress” list. I’ve been carrying this project around in the back of mind for longer than my youngest child has been breathing oxygen in the real world. I kept restarting and abandoning it due to a million different reasons, and it was only after three failed attempts that this stole finally began to actually exist as an actual tangible creation, when I cast on for the fourth attempt in the summer of 2014. I finally finished it up over this past summer, and then, unbelievably, kept it a secret until giving it to my granny for Christmas this year. You guys, the maturity…apparently I have that now.

As much as I complain about how long this took me to make, it’s been great fun to go back and read through all the posts about this project throughout its creation because they took place at the most random times and managed to really capture some of the major milestones of my life in the past twelve years: Morning sickness while I was pregnant with Nathaniel, packing for Australia, being in Australia, back surgery, moving to Washington, stuck at home during the summer we thought the pandemic would be over…it hit a lot of the major notes.

And now it’s complete, blocked, and gifted. It sure feels good to check this one off the list.

I hope my granny gets good use out of it. Sure, there’s not a lot of opportunity to wear special clothes out and about these days, but hopefully those kinds of days and events are right around the corner and she gets to strut her stuff soon.

The Details:
Pattern: Peacock Feathers Stole, by Dorothy Siemens, formerly of Fiddlesticks Knitting. It looks like she’s retired from knitting design, so the original website is gone and you have to purchase the pattern through Ravelry.

Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, “Juniper” color, 2 cones

Needles: US 3 (3.25mm) 24-inch circulars. I want to say they’re Addi Lace Turbos. They’re gold-colored, and I’m assuming made from brass because they had that brassy “tang” of a smell to them whenever I’d start using them again after a hiatus. The sharper tips were very, very useful for all the stitch manipulation in this pattern.

Modifications: None.

Click here to view this project’s Ravelry page.

Finished: Patchwork Forest Quilt

It is so weird to finish up this surge of Christmas quilts these past few weeks because it’s requiring me to go back and re-read the posts I wrote about them when I started them, and wow. So much has gone on, especially since I started working on the Patchwork Forest Quilt in the autumn of 2019. I randomly decided to jump on the quilt along bandwagon that Amy put on that year, and it was a great experience that I immensely enjoyed. It was a sweeter time: My niece had just been born, I was homeschooling Nathaniel, things had finally settled down after the move up here…it felt like we were really getting ready to live “happily ever after” during that autumn.

I keep talking about this quilt as “the one I made before COVID,” which is weird because there were a couple of other finishes before COVID really got its wheels turning, but this quilt feels like the last one I made before things started getting stressful with keeping an eye on the development of the COVID situation, so in my mind it’s just from “before.”

I had originally planned to big-stitch hand quilt it, but ended up hating the actual work of it and ripped out the hand quilting after a week’s progress. Then Christmas was over and I set it aside to bring back out when Christmas 2020 got closer so I could finish it then…

But I don’t think I had the desire at any point during 2020 to pick it back up to finish for Christmas. Last Christmas is just a fogged-up murmuring in my memory. When I had the thought to maybe try to finish it this year, I almost cried: The desire, ambition, drive in my heart was finally back. We got through Hell and came out on the other side and some things are still relatively the same. When my drive to finish projects dried up towards the end of last year, I knew I was stressed and anxious beyond my max and to leave the crafty side of things alone and just focus on surviving. I’ve been through that particular cycle enough times in my life to know that it’s a temporary adaptation to stressful situations, and I allow it to run its course, knowing that the fabric and the yarn will wait for me to come back. The fabric and the yarn don’t judge. Thank the stars for that.

This quilt is twin-sized (~72″ x 90″), and Renaissance has claimed it temporarily for her bed until I make her requested Christmas quilt. (The plan is to do that in 2022.)


Pattern: Patchwork Forest Quilt, Pine Hollow version, by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter.

Fabric: I used lots of well-loved Christmas scraps, random half-yard purchases, and forgotten Christmas fat quarter bundles for this quilt and had so much fun with the color palette. I absolutely love this quilt. A friend of mine called it the “Hipster Christmas Trees” quilt, and the name stuck; I actually have to go and look up my previous posts to remember what its real name is when I write about it.

Backing: A lovely, thick black and white plaid Mammoth flannel, #SRKF-16943-1 WHITE. This quilt is heavy. It’s amazing.

Quilting: I went beefy with the quilting thread, using Aurifil 12 wt in the top and Aurifil 40 wt in the bobbin, color 2021. I eyeballed straight lines about 2.5 inches apart, and I love the slightly wonky unevenness of the quilting because it matches the slight wonkiness of the tree blocks. I also used black Auriful 12 wt to quilt the black inner border, and then returned to the white Auriful 12 wt to quilt a few lines in the blue outer border. (Note to self: Straight line quilting only with this thread; the machine did NOT want to do a serpentine stitch AT ALL…)

Binding: I decided to do a scrappy binding because 1) I couldn’t decide which fabric to choose for the binding, 2) I don’t think I had enough of anything to do a full binding, and 3) The more wonkiness, the better on this quilt. It was an extension of the fun to randomly piece together the scraps into binding while I watched “A Christmas Story” earlier this week!

Dates: I pieced this in October and November of 2019, and quilted it in December of 2021.

We were busy making epic amounts of Christmas cookies on the day I took pictures of this, and I left it hanging on the couch afterwards. Renaissance was a cookie-making machine; she baked from 8am until 5pm and was absolutely exhausted come dinner. She decided to go to bed at 7:30, happened to see the quilt on the couch as she headed to her room, and wordlessly scooped it up before trudging up the stairs. When we checked on her later, she was out beneath her new quilt, hopefully dreaming sweet Christmas dreams.

Free Gift: Sewing Room Cleaning Checklist

Hi friends! As a token of my appreciation for your camaraderie all these years, I decided to make my sewing room monthly cleaning checklist into a PDF that you can use in your own sewing rooms! I wish you a wonderful holiday season and hope that the new year coming will be filled with beautiful, creative moments!

Why, Hello, Week of Christmas

Good morning, lovelies! How was your week last week? I’m so glad I took a little break from the online world, it was definitely needed to get things somewhat put back together ’round these parts.

Is it me or does it seem like the blogging community is waking up a bit these days? It seems like no one has blogged in years, and suddenly there’s all of these “coming out of hibernation” posts popping up and oh my goodness, it makes me so happy! My heart loves blogging, first and foremost. Instagram is great and all, but reading through people’s thoughts and decision processes, accompanied by good photography…that is my jam. Give me thought-out content that’s worth my time, not some silly little reel stitched together in fifteen seconds.

My crafty thoughts for this week:

  • I’m really hoping to get the Patchwork Forest quilt done.
  • I don’t think Sew Many Stars will get finished this year, and that’s OK.
  • The “Fair Isle” knitting project won’t get even get started this year.
  • “Stripes” and “Pattern I Don’t Like” are more than halfway done each; I think I can only finish one before Christmas, and I’m paralyzed regarding which one to pick.
  • I am going to bake some Christmas cookies this year, darn it. I had a day set aside last week, but the Universe really conspired against it happening, and by the time I could finally embark upon said baking, I was way too tired to even start. I do have a whole day set aside this week to bake with the kids, though…fingers crossed!
  • I had THE BEST IDEA while I was laying around in my sick bed this month, and I’m excited to share it with you later this week!

I hope you have a fantastic week, friends. Opt for the more restful options and just enjoy this season without taking on the things that stress you out. You’re amazing and strong, and I hope you find some beautiful crafty time to fill your soul.

Well, That Didn’t Go As Planned…

Oh my goodness, you guys, THIS MONTH. I thought I’d head into December all sparkly-eyed about my crafty goals and Christmas, but on November 30 I started getting a headache around lunch, and by dinner I was nauseous and gross, which continued for the rest of the week. It cleared up over the weekend, but meant I was behind on my December plan of action. I redrew my plan, squared my shoulders, and set off into the new week. “So I lost a week,” I told myself, “In ten years it won’t matter, so I’m not going to worry about it anymore.” Woo-hoo to practical reasoning abilities.

In-progress shot of the quilting on the Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt

I hit the ground running on Monday and killed it. I killed Tuesday. Wednesday morning started off with killing it again, but in the hour leading up to lunch my muscles started to ache as I stood to quilt the Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt, which I dismissed as post-workout soreness. I sat down to eat lunch. I realized I was too tired to eat lunch, so I thought I’d just keel over onto the couch and rest for a few minutes. When I woke up twenty minutes later, my face was congested and my throat was scratchy. Michael was working from home that day and he walked into the living room. I looked up at him and said, “I think I’m sick?”

“Congestion and a sore throat?” he asked.

I nodded my head.

“Yeah,” he said, “that’s what I had last week.”


And, whoa, I must have gotten the Super Version of this germ because it knocked me onto my butt and I’ve been in bed all week. I think it’s starting to let up a little, but it also feels like it’s going to take a few days to start feeling totally human again.

So, in the spirit of sanity, I’m going to be missing from the online world a little bit this week. When a mom of four spends two weeks being sick, it really destroys the house, the laundry, the groceries, and the Christmas logistic schedule. I’m going to need this next week to catch up and then I’ll be back.

Wash your hands! Cough into your elbow! Merry Christmas!

December Morning in the Garden: Thoughts on Resting

I should have cleaned out my garden back in October, but I was still healing from foot surgery. Now that my foot is technically well enough to handle yard work it’s been raining or super cold. But all that leftover foliage mixed with a cold and misty morning sure makes for some lovely photos.

I love noticing the flow of nature, and for the last few years I’ve tried to emulate its rhythms in my own life. Winter is such an interesting idea–time to rest. In a society where we’re all working and recreating non-stop and trying to launch a side hustle at the same time, rest can be an elusive concept.

I’ve always appreciated the concept of the Sabbath Day and its insistence on slowing down once a week, but I’ve always had music callings at church, which meant Sunday was one of my most busy and dreaded days of the week. Yes, I love music; but that doesn’t downplay the stress and anxiety that comes with organizing and performing said music. I stepped away from and declined all the holiday music commitments this year, and I’m so glad I did. No rehearsals, no dealing with sore throats, no pounding heartbeat before a performance…just calm appreciation of the season.

I was sick last week with some little thing that is now creeping through the entire family. As much as I resent the missed opportunities to get ahead on the Christmas crafting, it sure was nice to Netflix and Nap during daylight hours. I’m reminded of the 12 Week Year insistence of including free time in your schedule (Breakout Blocks), and I’m realizing that I’ve forgotten to do that since my foot surgery. (Sitting around for six weeks straight will make you feel like you’ve had ENOUGH free time, thankyouverymuch.) I suppose I should make a note to include a block of free time in my week. It’d be nice to do some Christmas baking.

But, ugh, the guilt that comes with resting and doing something just for the enjoyment of it. There’s always more I think I should be doing! Unfortunately, I’ve learned over and over again that if you don’t make time to rest and heal, your body will force you into it with sickness or injury. I’m finally accepting this universal truth and making room for it in my own life. The earth rests every winter and the moon wanes every month–why do I think I need less rest than them?

I like the idea of taking a break in the winter to rest and nurture myself and my family. Christmas festivities infringe on that a bit, but the weeks after Christmas are beautifully quiet. The new year invites reflection and planning while wearing snuggly socks and sweaters. We dream up our vision for the coming year while nurturing our bodies with hearty soups, like we’re infusing ourselves for the work ahead. I love the winter months when they’re spent in quiet activities. Taking a break in the winter is such a lovely ritual.

Because March and April will roll around soon enough and next year’s garden will need planting. It’s a lot easier to do when you’re excited about it because you’ve had a break.

(It’s also a lot easier to do if you’ve cleaned up the last year’s garden before your break…my fingers are still crossed that I can get to it…wish me luck!)

Finished: Yuletide Botanica Orange Peel Quilt

Another Christmas quilt is complete! I’m really excited for this beautiful project to be out and usable!

The details:
Pattern: Orange Peel Quilt from Missouri Star Quilt Company
When I received this fabric from Blank Quilting last year, I didn’t want to cut it up too much because the prints were gorgeous, and, lucky me, I had picked up a MSQC Orange Peel template for 10″ squares from the freebie table at my last quilt guild meeting, so I decided to go forward with a super-sized orange peel quilt.
Fabric Collection: “Yuletide Botanica,” by Camelia’s Creation Studio for Blank Quilting, sent to me during my ambassador days in April/May 2020.
Background Fabric: A green with white polka dot print from American Jane’s “Bread ‘n Butter” collection, #21697-19. (Some of you may remember that I made a baby quilt from that collection a few years ago, and a tiny scrap of it was on the floor of my craft room when I received the Yuletide Botanica collection. I picked up the polka dot scrap and set it on the cutting table, and noticed that it paired nicely with the Yuletide Botanica collection. So I did some online shopping and got more. What a complete freak accident of happy circumstances.)
Backing Fabric: A green and white gingham flannel whose selvage disappeared somewhere. This quilt lived on on the TV room couch for a few days and every kid made a beeline for it because they love, love, love the flannel on the back. I’ve been informed that all future quilts should absolutely be backed with flannel.
Quilting: Aurifil 28wt & 50wt in color #2000 “Sand.” I quilted all the straight block lines, and then straight diagonal lines through the centers of the orange peels/footballs. It bugs me that I’m not doing more quilting, but my husband was using the last quilt I finished and he commented that he liked it better than most of my quilts because it was “floppy and not as stiff as the other quilts.” Sooo…I guess it’s fine?
Dates: I pieced this during May of 2020, and quilted/finished it in November 2021.

A funny note about this quilt that is totally a symptom of its times: The pattern has you use interfacing for constructing the orange peels/footballs, and I used medium-ish weight interfacing in this quilt, and realized I’d need to use a heavier weight quilting thread to make sure the quilting could withstand the extra weight of the beefier interfacing. After a few days of mentally berating Past Cara for choosing to go with the heavier interfacing and all the potential problems it could now cause, I finally remembered why I went with the heavier interfacing: I couldn’t find sheer or lightweight interfacing because it was sold out everywhere because people were making masks with it.

I’m making sure to note on quilt labels if they were made during Quarantine, because my historian heart adores facts like that. (I basically make quilt labels for my great grandchildren to read someday.)

This quilt will live on Em’s bed during the holiday season, and seeing how they’re graduating high school this spring, it will welcome them home from college for Christmas Break over the next few years, and that just makes my mother’s heart ache a bit. Hopefully it will be soothing sight.