Fifth Monday in January: Say Hello to the Far Far Away Quilt

You guys, I did it! I completed all the crafty goals I needed to complete this month in order to grant myself permission to FINALLY start on a quilt that’s been brewing in my mind for YEARS. I mean, I barely squeaked through with getting to work on this before month’s end, as I only got to start cutting it yesterday, but whatevs man, I’m working on my Far Far Away quilt!

I’ve been collecting fat quarter bundles of each of Heather Ross’ Far Far Away fabric collections since…2015, I think. The first collection popped up in a Fat Quarter Shop flash sale and I made a noise not of this world when I saw it, and grabbed it up because I LOVED those unicorns. We all know how often we actually get to working with spur-of-the-moment purchases, so that fat quarter bundle was still sitting on the shelf when the second Far Far Away collection came out, and I decided that I’d buy that one as well and do a compilation project someday.

And then Far Far Away THREE came out recently(ish) and I knew I needed to buy it as well. To be honest, all three of these fat quarter bundles would probably still be chillin’ in the stash if not for my new #craftygoals system that I’ve put into play this year. There’s so much more to it than I’ve explained because I don’t want to scare y’all off with my convoluted reasons for why/how I choose the projects to work on next, but it takes into consideration how long something’s been in the stash vs. how new it is and things like that…and, following the Convoluted Formula™, the “Far Far Away Quilt” was up next.

So I sat down mocked-up a quilt that would work with the number of fat quarters I have on-hand:

And now I’m cutting the fabrics. Oh my goodness, I love everything about these fabrics.

I’m going to be using Lori Holt’s 6″ Economy Quilt Block Foundation papers to make my economy blocks with super cute fussy cut centers. There’s 42 in a pack, so the quilt will be a 6×7 layout.

It IS the end of the month, so the #craftygoals rollover will start tomorrow and I’ll have to set this aside until I finish up February’s list to the point where I can work on this again, so you probably won’t see this again for a few weeks.

But oh my goodness, does it ever feel good to start working on this beautiful project.

(And nope, it’s not a gift for anyone. IT’S MINE. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!)


Progress: Michael’s Building Block Socks

Now that the Nereid Mitts are finished for my bestie, I’m moving on to the pair of socks I had hoped to gift to Michael for Christmas. I really love the idea of knitting him another pair of socks each Christmas, it seems so homey and cute. This/last year’s socks are a little more bold than I normally go for him, but I unearthed this yarn in my stash, and, eyeing the atrocious shipping times on everything last autumn, decided to work with the yarn I already had on-hand.

(A little funny: I was in the midst of deciding whether or not to use the stash yarn or order new yarn, and I mentioned it over lunch with the kids. Nathaniel said I should definitely use the stash yarn because it would “make your husband glad you didn’t spend any more money, which might feel like another gift.” Which made me laugh, but then also made me wonder what’s going on in that kid’s head regarding husbands and wives and their money?)

Socks-in-progress for the husband, made from KnitPicks’ Felici Sock Yarn in “Building Blocks” colorway

So, this is my hand-stitching project for the next little while, and I’ll update you with its progress each week until it’s done! I’ve got one sock already finished, so I just need to power through this one.

The real question is: What hand-stitching project will I work on next? This is the last hand-stitched overdue Christmas project, so I can kind of do whatever I want after this. Work on a UFO? Start something new? Decisions, decisions. Maybe I need to dredge up the list of knitting UFOs and my Ravelry queue, so I can make an informed decision. I am monstrously green-eyed as I scroll through my IG feed and see the many oh-so-lovely knitting WIPs going on at the moment. Hmmm…there’s also EPP and historical sewing to consider, so there’s a lot of potential projects to choose from. What’s a girl to choose?

Nereid Mitts Update

Yeah. They’re finished. And it never would have happened this fast if I wasn’t publicly shaming myself to get through them. Blogging is awesome.

I hope they bring you joy, Denise.

It’s so funny to read through other people’s write-ups of this pattern. Not many like it. It’s not a bad pattern at all, it’s just finicky and brain-consuming, and a lot of knitters knit in order to zen out. This is not a “zen out” pattern at all.

I’m also worried that they may have turned out a tad small. Which would be highly annoying, seeing that it took me almost ten years to make them.


Pattern: Nereid Fingerless Gloves, by Denise Sutherland (Ravelry link)

Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh Sock, “Flashdance” colorway

Needles: US 1 (2.25mm)

Modifications: Not on purpose…ha ha ha

Click here to see this project’s Ravelry page.

Fourth Monday in January

Monstrously behind in my crafting schedule, but there’s just not much I can do about freak nerve pinchings, and I really needed to get that COVID booster shot. This week has a little bit of extra free time in it because the kids don’t have school on Thursday and Friday, so I’m hoping to get a little more crafting done on those days. We shall see.

The fast and dirty rundown:

  • Cat Lady Quilt: Done and blogged.
  • Rachel’s Birthday Gift: In-progress, near completion. With the loss of almost two weeks of creating time, I had to give up on the idea of keeping this secret, so Rachel knows about it. It’s another circle skirt, this time made from the “Cast a Spell” floral print in the “Spooky & Sweeter” collection that Art Gallery Fabrics put out last year. It works well that she knows because I needed to measure her and then I figured I’d ask her if she even liked the idea before sinking hours of time into making it. It’s been super cute–she “wanders” into the craft room and stands behind me while I’m at the sewing machine and watches as the skirt gets stitched, and then wanders away, only to reappear an hour or so later to check on my progress.
  • Mini Charm Chiffon Baby Quilt: I ran into a hiccup on Rachel’s skirt and needed to take a break from it, so I went around and gathered up the various materials I needed to work on this and prewashed everything that needed it. Ready to baste. Could potentially finish this week.
  • Far Far Away Quilt: Also prewashed everything for this with the Chiffon stuff. It’s A LOT of fabric! So excited to hopefully get to working on this.
  • Brickhouse Quilt: Blocks 1-4 done.
  • Clementine Quilt: Almost done with Month 3. Probably finish this week.
  • Berry Quilt: Haven’t started, but will probably start this week.
  • HST Leaders & Enders Quilt: Haven’t started, probably won’t get to this month.
  • Nereid Mitts: Done! Need to photograph and blog.
  • Building Blocks Socks: Putting in the time, so they’re coming along.
Skirt with pockets!

It was a very productive weekend after many weeks of feeling poorly. It’s amazing how much you’re actually capable of doing when you finally start feeling better.

FINISHED: Cat Lady Quilt (Em will have to fight Quesnel for it, though…)

This quilt has been a long time comin’…

I think Em asked for this Cotton + Steel Cat Lady fabric for their…twelfth birthday? They were into quilting at the time, but the interest waned soon after. So it sat on my fabric shelf for years upon years until I decided to make it up into a quilt for Em’s sixteenth birthday two years ago. I only got the top finished and presented that to the birthday kid with the promise to get it completely finished soon after. BUT…it was 2020, I had just started my Blank Quilting ambassadorship and…it was 2020.

So the Cat Lady quilt went into the hibernation pile and did not come back out until this month. Em will turn eighteen next month (!) and it just started bugging me that this quilt wasn’t done, so I made a goal to finish it before their birthday. Ta da!


Pattern: Layers of Charm, by Fat Quarter Shop. I’ve made this pattern before and really love it for those prints you just don’t want to cut up too much. C+S prints are generally super cute and I like to keep them as intact as possible, so this was a good pattern for that.

Modifications: I went with a 6×8 layout for a bigger throw quilt ~57 x 76″.

Fabric: “Cat Lady” collection, by Sarah Watts for Cotton + Steel, ca. 2015. I also added in various other Cotton + Steel scraps I had in my stash that I thought Em would like.

Backing: “Cuddly Kittens Flannel Sorbet Kitten Faces #18119” by Wendy Kendall for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, 4.75 yards, pieced vertically.

Quilting: Aurifil 40 wt. in top and bobbin, #2021. I asked Em what they wanted for the quilting and they said, “That wavy line quilting,” so I stipple-stitched it. It’s been a long time since I’ve done free-motion quilting of any kind, and I think this is the biggest project I’ve ever free-motion quilted.

Binding: Scraps of the C+S Bluebird print I had from my friend making a dress from it.

Dates: Pieced January 27-30, 2020; Quilted January 4-7, 2022

I was so excited to get this done, and asked Em to do a photoshoot with it, but when it came time to do it, they were taking a nap. Undaunted, I decided to just do a one-woman shoot with the couch to help me out because…want to be done. But, weirdly, our cat Quesnel became OBSESSED with getting in my face while I tried to take pictures of this quilt, and the resulting photos are…well:

Trying to lick the camera lens (?!?!?!)

Mercifully, Em stumbled into the room after hearing me asking Quesnel to please stop getting in my shots, and Quesnel was momentarily distracted.

I asked Em if they’d help me out with some more photos, and they were less than enthusiastic about the task.

So I made it work.

All while being supervised by the true overlord of this house:

I’m surrounded by crazy children and cats all the time, and I’m loving the photographic evidence that I acquire when they’re being especially difficult.

Popping In…

…to let you know that I am still here and I haven’t abandoned blogging. My back went out last week, and then there was another thing that I don’t want to talk about on the internet, and then I went to the doctor yesterday to talk about the thing I don’t want to talk about, and he was like, “Hey, you didn’t get your flu shot this year, would you like to do that now?”

And I was like, “Yeah, sure, that’s probably wise.”

And then he said, “Do you need a COVID booster, too?”

And I was all wide-eyed with disbelief and said, “You have those?! I haven’t been able to schedule one online.”

“Yeah, we’ve got them, you want one?”

“Um, YES.”

So now, on the day that I thought I’d finally get back to doing some sewing or knitting after way too many days of not sewing or knitting, I’m nursing a very sore left deltoid and feeling slightly sick and feverish as my body figures out how to deal with the injected germs. Which is the absolutely best way to spend today, but it infringes on my crafty goals and I feel a little panicked that I’m totally going to miss the mark on a few of them, but then I remind myself that they’re just benchmarks in the air that I thought would be nice to achieve and nothing bad will actually happen if I don’t finish them on time, and geez, calm down.

I might try knitting a little today, just to try to work some of the soreness out of my shoulder, but I might not because it’s boring knitting that I’m really bored of and geez, I need a new knitting project. So many people are making awesome sweaters right now and I want to be like them. But noooooo, I’ve decided to be responsible and stuff and finish UFOs and dumb stuff like that. (It is so hard to keep that commitment when you feel like crap and decide to do a little online window shopping because you’re too worn out to really do anything else.)

(I may or may not have fallen down a retail therapy rabbit hole at a certain online fabric store…the anticipation of receiving a package in the mail is pretty much the only thing that has brought joy into my life this past week. #selfcare)

Alright, head on off to your lives. I’ll just be here, doing that greasy sick sweating thing and stalking people’s crafting-in-progress photos on Instagram. Leave a comment if you’ve got some good in-progress photos for me to look at. Tell me how to find them. I beg you.

Second Monday in January

Good morning, lovelies! Hopefully the new year is still treating you well and you’re making progress on the things that matter most to your heart. This week I’ll be (hopefully) finishing the Cat Lady quilt. The quilting is finished, and it’s trimmed; I just need to get going on the binding and label. I’m thinking I’m going to use the loads of C+S Bluebird scraps I have on-hand from when Denise made a dress for Em out of that fabric, which means I’ll be doing a scrappy binding construction because the scraps are very weird shapes–there’s very little yardage that will work for WOF cutting. BUT…it’s C+S fabric, and I have loads of it that I’ve been trying to sew through for years, so this will make a significant dent.

I had hoped to finish the Cat Lady quilt last week, but geez, what a week! Washington got a lot of snow and ice and rain and it just threw everything off kilter all week long. My kids had a two-hour late start for school four days out of five, the roads were flooding over…you don’t realize how stressed you’re feeling about stuff until you get past it and realize that you’ve been holding your shoulders up to your ears for days. And now we have to deal with rescheduling all the stuff that got cancelled, and adding it on top of all the regularly-scheduled stuff…I just wish that people would let things go when they get cancelled? Like, it’s too bad it didn’t happen, but let’s try again next year, rather than trying to fit it into the next couple of weeks that are already booked? Please? But alas…that’s a rare outcome.

Once the Cat Lady quilt is complete, I’m hoping to start work on Rachel’s birthday gift, and I can’t show you anything about it or she’ll figure out what it is. Which also means I have to clean it up everyday and not leave it lying around on the cutting table or the ironing board. Let’s see if I can actually remember to do that everyday…who else thinks that I’ll forget and Rachel will know what her gift is before it’s even finished? It also just occurred to me that I can’t work on this over the weekend days because she’s somewhat of a constant fixture in my craft room on the days that she’s home. So I guess it will take twice as long to stitch this up because I really will only have two days a week that I can work on this. Awesome.

I’m still working on the Nereid Fingerless Mitts for my bestie, and hopefully will have good news to report on them soon. This “tell people you were making them a gift if you didn’t finish it before Christmas” idea has been the perfect motivation to keep me working on those gifts. It might add extra incentive to get things done before Christmas in future years, too: I’m going to lose that special moment of surprise if it’s not done before Christmas because I’ll have to announce it on the blog. I don’t like doing that. But I do like finishing stuff, and so here we are.

Scrappy Thursday this week is for working on the Clementine Quilt. I don’t know if anyone remembers that I was one of the quilters in the original Clementine Quilters group, but I had to quit because we were moving. I hated quitting, but it was definitely the right call at the time because here we are, four years later, and it’s only now that I have the feasible time to work on it again. Fat Quarter Shop supplied me with the fabric to make the quilt, and I don’t feel right accepting fabric from people and then not using it, so it’s been on my mind ever since that I definitely need to get this completed so I can fulfill the obligation that I signed up for originally.

Update on Marshmallow: He’s doing better than he was. It looked like his hind legs were permanently paralyzed for many days, but in the last three or so days he’s started using them again, somewhat regularly. We changed up his meds the day before that development, so it looks like we’ve hit on a combo that works well for him. Pretty sure he’s gone blind though–he seems to only be responding to sounds, and he runs face first into things a lot. He got pushed down the stairs by Charlotte the other day because he walked near her, which is not a thing he used to do because she’ll bat any cat in the face that gets that close to her. (She’s such a GRUMP.) I feel like I need to set something up that will keep her away from him while I’m gone from the house because I’m afraid I’m going to come home to a murder scene or the like. Sigh.

So yeah, bad weather and geriatric cats…last week was intense. Hopefully things are a lot calmer this week!

Scrappy Thursday: Brickhouse Quilt: Blocks 1-4

It’s always a good thing when you make a goal and you complete the first part of it! I’ve completed the first occurrence of my new “Scrappy Thursdays” goal to work on getting the scrap bins down to a more manageable level each Thursday. This week’s scrappy project in the rotation was the first four blocks of my Brickhouse quilt.

I am really liking this pattern. It uses slightly bigger than I normally use pieces, so it eats up fabric a little better, and the construction is super easy. I’ve decided to use aquas and turquoises for the roofs of my houses, and pinks and reds for the bricks. And then I’m pairing all that with scrappy low-volume prints for the background. It turns out that I was pretty low on skinny red scraps, so I’m actually having to dive into my next-larger bin of scraps for the reds.

I’m thinking I might make multiple Brickhouse quilts this year because I like this pattern so much. House quilts are adorable anyway, so having lots of them would be so cute.

Alright, one Scrappy Thursday down, fifty-one more to go! Anyone else have scrappy goals for this year?

Progress: Nereid Fingerless Gloves

In my last post I pondered the idea of publicly sharing any handmade Christmas gifts that weren’t done yet, in a last-ditch effort to follow through on their completion because publicly talking about said unfinished gifts will keep them at the forefront of my crafty brain. And then…ugh, I made a really, really silly mistake on these mitts and every fiber in my being wants to throw them atop the hibernation pile and ignore them for another year, and NO THAT WILL NOT BE HAPPENING.

So here we are: I was hoping to finish up a pair of fingerless gloves for my bestie for Christmas this year, but I got sick for most of December and didn’t make the deadline and darn it, these are getting finished NOW. There will be weekly progress posts on these things until they are done because I started making them in August of 2012, people! It’s been almost TEN YEARS! They are beautiful and they deserve to be out in the world making my friend happy.

One mitt is done, and the silly mistake was that I didn’t start the thumb increases during the third repeat on the second mitt, so I have to unpick half a repeat and do it all over again and I was so close to being done but now I’m not and it was a very low moment for me. BUT…public pressure to continue on and persevere…hopefully I can show you much progress next Wednesday!

And, then…there’s another project that didn’t get finished for Christmas, and I’ll tell you all about it when these gloves are done! The anticipation builds!

The First Monday in January

CW: Injured cat

I am perpetually in love with new beginnings, and January is the month of new beginnings. Whether you do resolutions or not, there is something motivating and optimistic about the first week of the new year. There’s usually something motivating and optimistic about Mondays as well: What will this new week hold for me? What projects will I make progress on this week? Will I improve this week? Monday is the great big beginning. So the first Monday of the year…very pregnant with possibility.

Em & Nathaniel decided to dye their hair on NYE.

My kids head back to school today, and I head back to normal crafty hours. There’s so much that is great about December and all the Christmas festivities, BUT…they deviate from the normal schedule, and man, have I missed my normal, quiet schedule. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the craft room uninterrupted.

I shared my plans for January in my last post, and today sees me jump into that plan with all my first-Monday-of-the-year enthusiasm. I’ll be dragging out Em’s Cat Lady quilt that I pieced for their sixteenth birthday and then never got around to quilting. My plan is to finish this up before their birthday at the beginning of February, but not give it as a present because you can’t give something as a birthday present twice. My kid is going to be a legal adult in a month. How did we get here? I’ll wax poetic about that closer to their birthday. Hopefully I can get this quilt completely done this week? That’d be great.

This week marks the re-introduction of Scrappy Thursdays into my routine, and I’m excited to finally start working on my #brickhousequilt blocks. I’m aiming to make up the first four of sixteen blocks. I’m really optimistic about my Scrappy Thursdays plan and this pattern; hopefully I can do some epic scrapbusting this year–the situation is getting dire!

As far as handstitching projects go, I’m still slogging away on past due Christmas gifts I didn’t finish up and still can’t show you. (Side note: I’m thinking that if one misses the Christmas deadline for making a gift, that perhaps one should post about said items because secret crafting gets old after a while, and if one posts about the items, there’s a little more peer pressure to finish…but that may just be my thinking…)

I did, however, get a lot of work done on my “car knitting” project because one of my cats, Marshmallow, went to stand up last week and I’m guessing he pinched a nerve in his hips or something, because his back legs suddenly slumped out from beneath him and he started yelling. It was a long day at the curbside emergency veterinarian, and I alternated holding his head in my hand so he’d stay calm, and knitting while he slept or was inside the vet’s office. He was given a diagnosis of severe arthritis, which is very common for the Scottish Fold breed, but I think I’m going to get a second opinion because I don’t think partially-paralyzed hind legs are something you just treat with anti-inflammatories. (I had a partially paralyzed leg for about a week before my back surgery–it’s horrifically painful.) He’s really struggling, and I think he’s going blind, too. He’s a grandpa of a cat, probably about fifteen years old or so, so it’s getting to be that time where we might need to make some sad plans for him.

Nathaniel is pretty upset, and has taken on the role of permanent cat whisperer; he carries Marsh around and helps reset his legs into a standing position so he doesn’t have to drag them behind him. Sigh. Loving another creature sure is painful when it gets near the end of their life. One would almost be tempted to not engage in the practice, were it not for all the funny little memories and cute moments we’ve had over the years.

Not the most uplifting end to a “motivating & optimistic” Monday post, but it’s what’s going on around here and I try to document the whole story. I’ve got a lot of work to do this week, and also try to find a vet that can squeeze Marsh in for a consult. Wish me luck! And I wish you luck with your week and your goals, and I hope all your pets are in splendid health.