Tweedy Lil’ Pumpkin Hat #2

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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.

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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).

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Happy knitting!

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Bread & Butter Quilt

SONY DSCMy roommate from freshman year of college just had her first baby, the third of my close friends from freshman year to procreate this year.  We’ve stayed in touch over the years; she’ll randomly send me a little email here and there and they just brighten my day so much.  She’s always been one of the nicest people I know.

So, of course, when she emailed me early on in the year to let me know that she was expecting, I wanted to go all out for her and her wee one.  I had plenty of notice, so I really sat down and thought about what to make.  I recalled a quilt pattern I’d seen in a book I borrowed from the library while we were living in Australia, and luckily, I remembered the name of the book, Two From One Jelly Roll Quilts, by Pam and Nicky Lintott, and even more luckily, the book was available on Amazon.com (so many Australian books cannot be obtained stateside, but this one was British!), so I ordered it, took a glance at the pattern, chuckled at its cleverness, and committed.

Her nursery has been decorated with an alphabet and storybook theme, and she said she was fond of polka dots, and then she found out she was having a girl, and the Bread & Butter fabric collection popped into my mind’s eye, and I knew we had a winner.

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I’ve been in a lot of pain for the past couple of months so progress on this quilt was very slow.  It was decided that I would have another surgery to help with the problem, and when I finally got a surgery date scheduled, I just had a feeling that I really needed to get this to the binding stage before I went under the knife.  I had to enlist the help of my bestie, Denise, to cheer me on and encourage me, and we hosted a couple weeks’ worth of “Epic Sewing Thursdays” where we’d text pictures back and forth to each other every hour or so to show our progress on our respective projects.  You sure can get a lot done when you’re working “alongside” friends!

My check-in for surgery was at 12:45pm on Election Tuesday, and I was finishing up the machine-stitching portion of the binding at 10:30am.  Why fret about surgery and politics when you can focus on making pretty things for babies?

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The hand binding took two days, and the quilt label took lots of minutes over lots of days because my surgery ended up being a little more invasive than originally planned, and I was put on bed rest for five weeks instead of “three days of resting” afterwards.  Bah.  (Which is also why you’re getting quilt photos in front of the Christmas Tree…I wasn’t allowed to leave the house, ha ha.)

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But in the end, the result was the same:  A beautiful baby quilt for a beautiful baby girl, who has a beautiful mother with one of the kindest hearts you’ve ever met.

Congratulations, Stephanie and Jon, on the start of your family.  Welcome to your life, Baby Sydney…look to your mother’s example and you’ll do well.

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Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Briar Rose Baby Quilt

Briar Rose quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Another baby quilt completed during this Year of ALL THE BABIES™!  This was for another friend from college, and I decided to bust out the coveted Briar Rose charm packs that I had been saving for “something special.”  She had mentioned in Facebook comments that she hoped to not “drown in a sea of pink,” and Briar Rose is the perfect amount of girly without a lot of pink, in my opinion.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

My oldest daughter, Emily, helped me out with piecing the top as part of her summer chores (I’ve assigned one hour of sewing to her everyday in the hopes that she’ll start making  a dent in some of her WIPs).  I then took over from there with the quilting and finishing.

Vine and clover quilting on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

 

I was stressing pretty bad about the baby quilts when I started quilting this one, and I just decided to let go of all of the expectations of getting gifts done before the babies were born so I could actually enjoy the process of making the gifts.  I was going to burn through the quilting on this with a simple stipple design, but the quilt spoke to me and it wanted some sort of floral quilting.  Floral stipple?  Nope.  Chrysanthemum all-over design?  Nope.  And then the idea of vines and clover popped into my head, and the quilt clapped its hands in excitement, and off we went.  It took longer to do, but I’m so glad I went that route.  It was a good exercise in doing something new.

Back of Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I tracked down some Briar Rose yardage* for the back, which made my matchy-matchy heart so happy, and I dipped into my preciously-hoarded stash of my own Briar Rose yardage for the binding.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I decided to take some time and also have fun with the label, and I love how it turned out…little, teeny pinwheels!  Oh, be still my heart.  Love, love, love.

Quilt label on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

It’s simple patchwork, yes, but I’m super proud of it–beautiful fabric, new quilting design, and adorable little label.  It makes me smile to look at the pictures every time I see them.  AND it was a joint project with my girl…win-win all around.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

*I found the Briar Rose yardage at Lark Cottons, and they still have yardage of various prints!

Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt

Yes, it is indeed a post from me, and it’s even about a finished project.  Whew, end-of-school kinda kicked my butt this year, and I haven’t been sewing, blogging, or doing anything beyond mommy duty for months.  Life gets that way sometimes.

Anyway, you’re here for the finished quilt, not my life story.  Here we go…I give you the FINISHED Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt:

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SONY DSCSo, many years ago, I don’t how many precisely (five? eight?), the Dr. Seuss fabric came out and people went absolutely bonkers for it, myself included.  I bought up a couple yards without any plan for them, and, because I was in the midst of homeschooling and really young kids, it went into my stash to hibernate.

This May or June I found out that a friend from college was pregnant…and due to give birth in about three weeks or so.  Now, I’d always liked this friend, but I was in the midst of my “young children” years when she had her other kids and I hadn’t been able to make anything back then, but here I was, all primed for baby quilt-making, just a little short on time…and after a couple of days of stewing over it, I just decided to go for it.  Operation Sew-It-Like-You-Mean-It was a go.

Stash diving brought out the Dr. Seuss goods, which I matched up with some other coordinating fabrics, and I found a fun pattern that looked like it could come together quickly in Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts.  Woo hoo!

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SONY DSCIt was fast, and I had a lot of fun making it!  And, to top it off, I bought some of the most perfect binding fabric from a member of my quilt guild.  I love, love, love the black and white stripe!

I used up all of my yellow Dr. Seuss print on the back, bordered with strips of the Dr. Seuss prints from the front.

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I think it’s rather happy, no matter which side you’re looking at.  I hope it’s well-loved, and used until it’s worn out to rags.  That’s Valhalla for a baby quilt.

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And many thanks to my little quilt models…

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…they’re so fabulous.

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: “Blithe” quilt pattern

Hello again!  It’s time for another round of AGF Stitched with Kimberly, featuring a new pattern and some lovely Art Gallery Fabrics!

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The new pattern this time is called “Blithe,” and the Fat Quarter Shop version used a new fabric collection called Chalk & Paint, which, when I first saw it during those gray, cold days of late January, just filled me with so much excitement over the eventual arrival of spring that I decided to make a spring-colored version myself.

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I went with a bunch of fabrics from the Paperie collection and the Playing Pop collection, with a few selections from the Millie Fleur collection as well, paired with the solid “Icy Mint” from the Pure Elements line.

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I really liked the look of this pattern, but I had the idea to scale it down and decided to go with it.  Instead of six-inch blocks, I scaled it down by 50% to make three-inch blocks, and made some cheerful throw pillows.  The pillows measure 18.5 inches square.

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Love it.  The pattern used Triangles on a Roll, which I’d always wanted to give a try, so there was some extra fun in doing that–I think if I need to mass-produce HSTs in the future that I’ll go this route again.

I’ve been obsessed with pebbling quilting for a few months now, so I decided to take the plunge and give it try as well.  I used Aurifil 50 in “Medium Mint” for pebbling on the mint sections, and Aurifil 50 in “Natural White” to outline quilt the prints.  Using the darker mint thread really brought out the green tones of the Icy Mint fabric, which was neat.

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To help you out with making your own Blithe quilt, the Fat Quarter Shop has assembled two kits using that fabulous Chalk & Paint fabric collection:

Blithe Quilt Kit

Backing Set for Blithe Quilt Kit

And, the pattern is free, and you can get your own copy by clicking here.

There’s also a video explaining the pattern more in-depth.  Enjoy!

In exchange for creating this project, Art Gallery Fabrics provided me with the fabric.  Thank you to both Art Gallery Fabrics, and to the Fat Quarter Shop for allowing me the opportunity to sew up another beautiful pattern with such great fabrics!

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It Begins: Journal Covers for my Activity Days Girls

I serve as a leader for my church’s Activity Days program, which is basically our version of Girl Scouts for girls ages 8-11 years old.  When they turn twelve years old, they advance into the Young Women’s program, and we say good-bye.

I started serving in this position last spring, and we haven’t had any of the girls turn twelve in that time until now…and it just so happens that it is my very own daughter who is advancing.

SONY DSCServing as Activity Days leader when my girl is moving up is interesting because I have firsthand observations as to what would actually be valuable to her at this point in her life, and then I can apply that knowledge to the other girls as they reach this age.  And since you really do fall in love with these girls as you teach them and spend time with them, you want to give something to them when they leave, and the Young Women’s organization seems to be pretty big on keeping a journal, so I decided to go with making journal covers for my advancing twelve year olds.

This week was my daughter’s last Activity Days meeting, as she turns twelve in February, so we said our good-byes and presented her with her journal cover that will hopefully see her through to adulthood and beyond.

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I used Lori Holt’s journal cover pattern that can be found over at AllPeopleQuilt.com.  I’m planning on making a lot of these over the next few years (seven alone this year), so I think in the future I’m going to size it down to fit a composition book–this particular pattern fits your  basic full page journal ($15 +/-), which my Activity Days budget cannot handle purchasing for each advancing girl.  But a $2 composition book for each girl?  You betcha, and it will be so easy to replace those journals as the girls fill them up during their angst-filled teenage years of seeking solitude in writing their emotions.

I used a lot of fabric from a fat quarter bundle of Wee Wander fabrics that I bought specifically for my daughter a year or two ago.  She’s big into blues and greens and absolutely loved the collection, but then I gifted her the “Locket” quilt for Christmas, so I probably won’t be making a Wee Wander quilt for her anymore.  Which means I can start using it in other projects, and what better project than one meant for her?

The gingham is from Tasha Noel’s “The Simple Life” collection, and the other three non-Wee Wander prints inside the journal cover are from the years when I wasn’t paying attention to the names of fabric collections, and were conveniently missing their selvages, so I don’t know their names.  (That hexagon one, though…it’s on the tip of my tongue…Riley Blake?)  And the coral tile-looking print…I think it had something to do with Ty Pennington.)

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Front inside pocket

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Back inside pocket

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Back outside cover

SONY DSCThe navy strip on the top of the cover is from Pat Bravo’s “Dare” collection, leftover from binding the “Locket” quilt, and used when I cut my cover fabric the wrong size…good thing we quilters aren’t scared by that sort of mistake, eh?

The “e” on the front cover was cut with my Silhouette Cameo (font = Garamond), and then I just slowly machine straight-stitched it onto the pocket.  We’ll see how it stands up to wear-and-tear; it is backed with some fusible webbing to try to avoid fraying.

It’s a cute little thing, and I hope it gets a lot of use!

I’m going to be the mother of a twelve year old in a matter of weeks.  Goodness me.  Hopefully she’ll have journals filled with happy memories and wise lessons…

Linking up:
Made by You Mondays @ skiptomylou.org
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

 

 

Layers of Charm “Flower Sugar” Quilt

Top-10-VIdeosHappy New Year everyone!  In celebration of the new year, Fat Quarter Shop decided to showcase their top ten YouTube videos from 2015, and the Layers of Charm pattern was one of them.  It is a very easy pattern to stitch!

 

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I chose to make my Layers of Charm quilt using the very pretty Flower Sugar 10″ Origami Square pack, and paired it with a White Bella Solids Charm Pack I had on hand.

Every time I’ve seen a Layers of Charm quilt, I’ve always noticed those middle diamonds, and I’ve always thought that they made perfect little blank canvases for some embellishment, so I went with it and added a redwork rose to my center diamond:

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I simply traced a vintage roses pattern (found all over the internet) onto the fabric, and then used some DMC cotton perle #8 in color #321 to stem stitch the design.  I think it goes perfectly with the Flower Sugar “look.”

I then did some double diagonal lines of quilting with 40 weight Aurifil thread in color #2250, and I love how they cross each other!

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I loved making this quilt, and it turned out so beautiful!

If you’d like to watch the Layers of Charm video, here it is:

And, the pattern is FREE and you can download it here: http://static.fatquartershop.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf/LayersofCharm.pdf

One layer cake + one charm pack.  Simple.

Also, if you head on over to the Fat Quarter Shop’s Jolly Jabber blog, they’re offering a $100 gift certificate giveaway in connection with this #FQSTop10 event.  Go find out how to enter!

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for this great pattern and the opportunity to share it with others!

But, wait!  Others are making the Layers of Charm quilt and showing it off today!  Go check ’em out:

Tina of Emily Ann’s Kloset
Tricia of Notes of Sincerity
Anorina of Samelia’s Mum
Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting
Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation
Cara of That Crafty Cara
Connie of Free Motion by the River
Gerri of Planted Seed Designs
Shruti of 13 Woodhouse Road

Linking up:
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: “Locket” Quilt Pattern

 

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Another new pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop and Art Gallery Fabrics!  It’s a clever little pattern, and I enjoyed sewing it up so much!  I love sewing half square and corner square triangles, and that’s what this pattern is all about.  And, even better, the Locket quilt pattern is available for FREE!

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When I first saw the pattern, I fell in love–it made me think of the light inside each person (yellow centers), and how they are surrounded by people who love them, and their experiences (multi-colored fabrics).  That people/experience “filter” helps us to choose from right and wrong, which always surround us (navy & ivory).

As always, there’s a cute little video explaining the pattern, featuring Kimberly from the Fat Quarter Shop:

Click here to order your own Locket quilt kit from the Fat Quarter Shop, featuring Amy Sinibaldi’s lovely “Paperie” fabric collection.  There’s also a separate backing set, which you can order by clicking here.

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop and Art Gallery Fabrics, for letting me participate in another lovely blog tour!

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Quesnel loves this quilt, too.

This quilt was machine quilted by Brandy Mascher.  I love it!

Click here to see my Pinterest board for this project!

Feel free to go check out the other bloggers’ take on this pattern, too:

Angie of GnomeAngel

Cara of That Crafty Cara (that’s me!)

Caroline of Sew Caroline

Christina of Sometimes Crafter

Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting

Heather and Megan of Quilt Story

Jane of Quilt Jane

Jemima of Tied with a Ribbon

Melissa of Happy Quilting

Natalia of Piece N Quilt

Sinta of Pink Pincushion

UPDATE: If you check out the Fat Quarter Shop’s blog post about the Locket pattern, there’s a giveaway for an Art Gallery Fat Quarter Bundle of your very own!

Linking Up:
Sew Cute Tuesdays @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation